10 Keys for Evaluating Children’s Ministry Curriculum
By: Steven Knight
When was the last time you evaluated your children's ministry curriculum? If it's not quite as effective as you would like, then perhaps it's a good time to take a look at other curriculum options. If you're not sure where to start, then take a look at these 10 keys for evaluating children's ministry curriculum:
1. Scope and Sequence
What is the game plan of the curriculum? Every good curriculum has a scope and sequence, which should include a breakdown regarding topics and Bible passages covered. If it's not posted online, then a quick email to the company will usually allow you to take a good look at the scope and sequence.
2. Biblically Focused
Does the curriculum focus on the Bible? It might sound like the Bible should be an obvious part of any children's ministry curriculum (and you're right), but not all curriculum focuses on the Bible. A good curriculum bases every lesson on Scripture.
Do the teachers feel empowered by the curriculum? A good curriculum for teachers gives them creative ideas and easy-to-follow instructions, but also allows them to adapt the lessons as needed. With a good curriculum, teachers can become more confident and effective as biblical communicators to kids.
4. Developmentally Appropriate
Can the children understand the curriculum at their level? Good curriculum is designed to be developmentally appropriate for your kids, and focuses on three areas of growth: cognitive (head), affective (heart), and behavioral (hands) growth. Each lesson should teach your kids and disciple them in each of these three areas, at a level that they can understand.
5. Family Component
Does the curriculum provide a way for the family to get involved? A top-notch curriculum will provide a way for parents to get involved in it.
One example of a family-component is a take-away sheet, which is given to parents and caretakers after your weekly kids event. Then, the kids can be discipled throughout the week using the take-away sheet, which functions as a mini-devotional that stirs conversation and teaching at home, based on what the kids are learning at church each week.
Some of the best curriculum providers have a pre-Sunday weekly family devotional, which allows parents to disciple their kids during the week, then let the church continue the discipleship on the same topics on Sundays.
6. Builds Relationships
Good curriculum encourages friendships between kids and mentor relationships with their leaders. Usually, this takes place through very intentional activities that encourage conversation and relationship-building.
7. Practical Application
Does every lesson provide an application for the kids? There's so much we can learn from the Bible that a curriculum should be overflowing with practical applications for kids.
An excellent curriculum provides flexibility for you to adapt it according to your ministry's needs. Some curriculum cannot be purchased in an editable document, which certainly makes adapting it pretty difficult! Good curriculum will allow you to adapt it and even offer multiple activities for you to choose from each week.
It's a basic question, but it's an important one. Is the curriculum affordable? If it's not, consider emailing the curriculum company and asking for a discount. Many times, they are willing to offer you a discount so that you can try the curriculum for one year.
Another question to ask is if the curriculum is re-useable, or is it a one-time use curriculum? If you want a lot more bang for your buck, look for a curriculum that can be re-used multiple times.
One of the most important factors for your curriculum is its compatibility with your church's mission, vision, and values. The curriculum needs to match up with the direction of the church, so that the children's ministry can be a strong complement to the whole church, not just another "silo" within the church.
When to Change Your Children's Ministry Curriculum
How do you know when you should change your children's ministry curriculum? Changing curriculum can be good from time to time, especially if there is a better option available to meet your church's needs.
Here are some questions you can use to evaluate when you should change your children's ministry curriculum:
* Is the curriculum still meeting your criteria and needs?
* Are the lessons developmentally appropriate for your group?
* How are your children growing in the spiritual disciplines through the use of this curriculum?
* Does your curriculum contain solid theology?
* Are the weekly activities helpful for your group?
* Has the mission or vision of your children's ministry changed in a way that affects your needs in regards to curriculum?
* Is the curriculum fostering a desire for children to learn about God?
* Are you spending too much time modifying the curriculum?
* Can teachers use the curriculum easily?
* Are the lessons difficult to adapt?
* Do the activities take away from the learning or support it?
* Are there more negative features than positive features in the curriculum?
* Have I received bad feedback about it from teachers and volunteers?
My hope is that you're already using an amazing curriculum! But, if you are now wondering if you should change to a new curriculum, then take a little time to research what's out there and see if you might want to change things up and move forward with a new one.
Steven Knight is the founder of www.KidminTools.com and has more than 12 years of children's and family ministry experience. He is a contributing author for several books and enjoys equipping children's and family ministry leaders.