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Evaluating Sunday School Curriculum
By: Pauli Price

After reviewing the Sunday School curriculum offerings on the market, the bottom line is your evaluation. Everyone else's glowing descriptions and recommendations aside, you and your team need to establish the criteria for selecting the best Sunday School curriculum for your church.

What do teachers consider especially important when evaluating a Sunday School curriculum?

"There are several things to consider when evaluating a curriculum, the most important of which is biblical accuracy," said Lori McKenzie, a Lutheran Sunday School teacher in Pennsylvania. "The content should be accurate and reinforced using specific Scripture verses."

Other Sunday School teachers mention concepts such as God-centeredness, age-appropriateness, or character formation, while relevance ranks high among teachers looking for teenage Sunday School curriculum.

Prepare an Evaluation Sheet
An evaluation sheet is a tool to help you keep track of, and to compare, the features of various curricula you are considering. However, before you can design one, you will need to determine both your goals and your constraints. Begin by answering this question: When you reach the end of the year, what do you want to see in the lives of your students? With that answer firmly in mind, here are a few other considerations.

Think about your educational goals. If it's important to your church that children learn a wide extent of Bible content in a given year, a curriculum that spends several weeks exploring each covered Bible story in detail would be a poor fit.

Consider your physical space. How many classrooms do you have? How large are they? If you have limited space, then materials that require several "workstations" in each classroom might not be appropriate.

Consider your available staff. How many teachers and assistant teachers will you have?

Consider your budget. How much money can you realistically spend for curriculum materials?

Next, determine what a suitable curriculum will need to provide to enable you to meet your goals within your constraints.

Here are some questions you may want to include in your Sunday School curriculum evaluation sheet.

Conceptual Content
* Is this Sunday School curriculum produced by any particular denomination?
* What is the theological stance?
* Is the biblical content and art faithful to and consistent with Scripture?
* What is the balance between the Old and the New Testaments?
* Is this curriculum lectionary-based?
* Is this an inclusive curriculum when it comes to race, economic status, gender, and disabilities?
* Are the lessons practical?

Physical Content
* Does anything have to be purchased separately?
* What is actually included in the price of this Sunday School curriculum?
* Teacher's guide?
* Lesson plans?
* Activities?
* Song sheets?
* Crafts?
* Cassettes, CDs, or videos?
* Memory work?
* Games?
* Take-home student materials?

* Is this Sunday School curriculum appropriate to the ages you will be teaching?
* Is it attractive?
* How effective are the materials? Will the children learn what is being presented?
* Is this Sunday School geared for a big church or a small church?

If you have a small church, consider:
* Are the games meant for more than 10 children?
* Do the crafts or activities require helpers?
* What about expensive materials?
* Will the lessons work with multi-aged groups?

Teacher Resources
* Is this Sunday School curriculum teacher-friendly for both new and experienced teachers?
* How much teacher preparation is needed?

Parental Involvement
* Is the Sunday School curriculum designed in such a way that the parents are encouraged to be involved in their child's spiritual formation?
* Are there "take-home" materials that parents are to use together as a family to reinforce the lesson?

* Can this Sunday School curriculum be used more than once?
* What is the physical quality of the product? Will the materials last as long as you will need them?
* How does the price compare to other Sunday School curricula?

When evaluating the cost, remember to factor in the materials included, as well as any extra-cost items if you are likely to purchase them.

You can add other questions that are relevant to your situation or your denomination. What is important is having a framework with which to work. An evaluation sheet provides a set of criteria that will help you select the best program, whether you are weighing a rotation Sunday School curriculum or a summer Sunday School curriculum.

Pauli Price is the founder of Sunday School Ideas for New Teachers, www.sunday-school-ideas-for-new-teachers.com.

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