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Well folks, its curriculum selection season. My phone is ringing off the hook with great questions from children's ministry leaders and Sunday school directors who are eager to offer thoughtful programing that helps form the faith of people of all ages. Over the next several weeks I’m going to share some of these Q&A’s in a new series I'm calling Curriculum Q&A’s. (Catchy, right?)There is nothing that a blogger likes better than community participation, so please jump in with your own answers, opinions, ideas, and experiences to enrich the conversation/debate. And send your burning curriculum questions my way to feature in this new series. (Stump the Sunday school guide, anyone?)

Q: What is the benefit of having kids explore different stories at different grade levels?

A: As we plan a scope and sequence we want bring children on a journey through Scripture that allows them to encounter a wide range of stories and also repeat key stories over time—exploring them in greater depth as children grow. When every grade level is on the same story there are stories that are appropriate for older kids that may have to be left out for the sake of the youngest kids.

For example, we don't tell the story of David and Bathsheba to first and second graders. Instead we wait until kids are a little older to introduce stories or passages that are frightening, sensitive, or abstract. This allows us to cover a broader range of stories and also to layer the stories in a way that is more meaningful to children. Young children don't think chronologically until they are in middle to late elementary. So, we begin in preschool with key stories from the OT and NT that help young children discover the love of God. Then in K-1, we group stories around simple themes like creation and the world and the miracles of Jesus. These themes allow us to include stories from both the OT and NT each year, because it makes more sense for kids this age to hear about Jesus every year than to spend a year exploring stories sequentially.    

Beginning in grades 2-3 and then again in grades 4-5 kids are ready to hear the stories sequentially so that they will start to understand the chronology, see the connections between the stories, and discover the way God moves throughout all of Scripture to redeem and restore his people through Jesus Christ. By 6th grade kids have a strong foundation of Biblical stories and are beginning to think more abstractly. It's time to add theological depth to the lessons by giving them a taste of Reformed doctrine, the teachings of the church, and Christian living.

All of this variety in the approaches we take to sharing the story is possible with a scope and sequence that puts kids on different stories at different ages. The main benefit is that it creates a layering effect that adds greater depth and theological content as kids grow. Hopefully, giving them a strong beginning for a lifelong quest to learn and grow in Christ.

What pros and cons do you see in curriculum that puts kids on different stories at grade levels instead of all together on the same story?

...Stay tuned for the next edition of Curriculum Q&A's where we will look at the other side of today's question: What is the benefit of all the kids exploring the same story at the same time? Is there a curriculum question that's keeping you up at night? Send it to me at [email protected] and I'll feature it in an upcoming Network post!

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