This is actually something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time. I know other people have mentioned this kind of stuff before as well, especially anyone who has ever come from the field of education. I think actually pulling something like this off might be next to impossible, but greater things have happened. If I’m totally off, just ignore me then.
I have a very personal opinion that most children’s pastors who write their own curriculum should not be writing their own curriculum. I know that we’re very opinionated and we feel that we know what’s best for our kids, but just becasue we feel we’re good educators and teachers does not mean we know anything about curriculum paths, development progression and pushing out a comprehensive scope and sequence. For the most part, we should leave that to the curriculum publishers as many of them understand that better than us (not all of them though and that’s worth considering too).
Here’s the great thing you get from a publisher. They map out a multi-year scope and sequence that spans from birth through 5th grade (and often beyond). If a church sticks with that curriculum, that child will have a thorough experience. Most curriculum companies understand the process of teaching with the end in mind and they design their curriculum that way. They include various elements at different places so that kids progress through the material in an ordered and comprehensive way. Scope and sequence is good. It’s something we need.
However, here is the problem. Children’s Pastors don’t stick with any one curriculum for 10-15 years. At least none that I know. One publisher might have a great new product that addresses specific types of kids in a very relevant way, so we switch to that. Then another publisher comes out with something innovative that’s easier, so we switch to that. This isn’t bad, we want what’s best for our kids and it’s good when publishers create new and innovative products. However, every curriculum company has their own scope and sequence. When we jump around, ultimately our kids pay the price. Their curriculum experience is scattered and possibly incomplete.
Let me first preface. I personally believe that life change for our kids primarily takes place because of relationship. That’s the most important thing. However, curriculum does play and important part in directing the content of things discussed in that relationship. Therefore, curriculum is important.
My crazy thought would be that curriculum publishers could somehow work together and follow a predetermined set of standards. Certainly every publisher could agree on what a well rounded Christ-follower would look like and what concepts would need to be taught to point them in that direction. Curriculum companies already do this, but they just do it in their own way and and in their own time. I’m not talking about a total re-write of curriculum where every church is teaching the same thing ever Sunday, but what if there was an agreement that certain key concepts were taught to 4 and 5 year old children across the board. The same with 4th and 5th graders. Maybe it’s just 5-6 concepts that show up in the curriculum that cover these important foundations. That way as kids move and find themselves in a new church or when churches switch curriculum they don’t start all over. They merely pick up right where they left off.
Independent standards allow children to have consistent educational experiences regardless of what school they attend (usually). Independent standards allow consumers to know that they’ll be safe in their car regardless of which make and model they purchased. Independent standards allow patients to rest assured that the care they receive will be comparable regardless of what hospital they visit. Doesn’t this make sense? Doesn’t it seem like it would serve children and families if there was more collaboration (or at least predetermined standards) for the curriculum publishers?
Again, I know this one’s a crazy thought, but it’s been something I’ve wrestled around with for years. Tell me what you think? How am I wrong about this? How is this an impossible endeavor?
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