Choosing Curriculum for Preschoolers and Children
Deuteronomy 6:6-7a “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.”
Choosing a curriculum for preschool and children’s classrooms requires prayer and a plan. The decision to change curriculums is usually motivated by disillusionment with the curriculum that you are currently using.
Step one of your plan should focus on prayer. Pray that the Lord will lead the process and search the scriptures to hear what God’s will is for His children. We know that Deuteronomy specifically emphasizes teaching and training our children to know who God is and what His statutes are. Jesus at the end of each Gospel commands us to disciple others. These scriptures can help us focus our search for a curriculum that aligns with what God’s will is.
Step two would be assessment. Talk with the teachers that work with the little ones in your church about the things that have benefited them in the curriculums they have used. Ask what access would be most helpful for them whether a paper copy or a digital version or a combination of the two.
Step three would be to research available curriculum options. Your search criteria should include financial considerations and the number of children in your ministry. With this information, you can exclude publishers out of your price range or geared toward mega churches if those are an issue. So, what do you really want in a preschool and children’s curriculum? Here are the top three things to look for:
Biblical Content: Does the curriculum and every activity in it focus the attention of the children on the Bible? Do the children get to open a Bible and touch the pages while the teacher tells the Bible story? Are the games and crafts centered on the Biblical truth and the elements of the story? For instance, we all want fun and engaging games, but if the purpose of the game is to remind the children of what they just heard in the Bible story, then you are reinforcing Biblical truth and not distracting from it.
Relevance: Does the curriculum have Bible stories and truths that the children can relate to? Is the main point written in a way that a child can repeat it and understand it? Younger preschoolers for instance do not think in abstract ways. If you say, give your heart to Jesus, a young preschooler envisions a physical heart being handed to Jesus. So, find a curriculum that speaks in concrete ways towards young preschoolers. You also want language that is relatable for children to understand. A verbose lesson with big words won’t resonate with little ones. Children need concise, fun language that they can repeat. And repetition and review will only help to set that memory verse or Biblical truth deeper into the heart of each child.
Usability: Biblically based, relevant curriculum needs to be easy for the teachers to read and use weekly. A beautiful, colorful curriculum does no good if the teachers can’t make good use of it. Find a curriculum that you can cater to your teachers. Find a curriculum with both a written version of the Bible story and a video version for flexibility from one Sunday to the next. Find a curriculum with loads of activities to choose from. You need games and crafts to help the wiggly child and the artistic child. Lots of options will give each teacher ways to relate to their own class. Some teachers love to dance to a song and others prefer to get out the glue sticks. Find a curriculum that every teacher can use.
Review and reassess your curriculum every few years. Pray and read the Bible to make sure that your curriculum is still the best choice for your church family. We honor the Lord when we lead His little ones to know and love Him.
Karen Erne has a Masters in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has been a published preschool and children’s curriculum writer for over ten years.