Why Small Group Time is Ideal for Leading Kids to ChristFebruary 22, 2018
3 Factors for Customizing the Kids Empowered CurriculumMarch 8, 2018
Our Kids Empowered curriculum is designed to work well for a variety of age groups. While 6-12 years of age is probably the most ideal range, preschool, or even middle school can easily be included as well. In this article, we will explore some very simple ways to customize the lessons for 3 – 5-year-olds. While the primary focus is on adapting the lessons for preschoolers, valid information can be learned for all age groups.
We will start with the Intro and Welcome Time, and walk our way through the Large Group Lesson, Personal Application Time, and Small Group Time. Don’t think of customizing the curriculum solely according to your classroom break up, or age groups, but more by where your classroom is developmentally. As teachers, our ultimate job is to cause our students to learn, so we want to teach in a way that this will happen. So, focus on your kids’ needs, see how they learn best as you get to know them, and make adjustments accordingly.
Customizing the Intro and Welcome Time
Just for Fun: Customize the “Just for Fun” section by choosing one of the simpler greetings and sticking to that one the whole month. This way the kids can get good at it.
Memory Verse: There are several ways to customize the memory verse.
- You can choose to shorten the verse by selecting only a specific segment to memorize.
- You can work on memorizing the entire verse in sections, each week.
Either way it is always a good idea to use hand motions, pictures, or songs to memorize verses when working with young children. This type of learning cements it into their memory. (See this article and these videos for more ideas and information on memorizing verses with children).
Customizing the Large Group Lesson
The biggest thing we need to remember as teachers is that our goal is to cause our students to learn. Simply teaching by covering the material, having good object lessons, or a well-planned lesson is not enough. Can your kids, at the end of class, explain back to you what you taught them? What they walk away with from your lesson is so vitally important. With that being said, here are some excellent ways to customize the Large Group Lesson for younger ages:
- Shorten the lesson: While preparing to teach, read through the lesson and hone in on the main point. Choose the parts of the lesson that you can cover in five minutes, and think of what you want your students to walk away with. What is the most important thing for them to learn? What is the Holy Spirit highlighting to you? This brings us to step number 2:
- Change the dynamic of the lesson: Teach your 5-minute lesson over and over again, in a few different ways. Young children thrive on repetition. Not only do they enjoy it, but they retain it. A typical 5-year-old is said to have a 5-minute attention span. Each time you change it up or do something new, you are re-engaging your children and their attention span. You can teach using visual aids such as: Bible story slideshows, video clips, or pictures, etc. You can appeal to your auditory learners by verbally telling or reading a story, or to your kinesthetic learners by engaging the kids with skits, puppets, drama, or various object lessons, etc.
By the end of class your students will have learned! And this is what you came to do, is it not?
Customizing the Personal Application Time
The Personal Application Time is where our children have space to encounter the living God. We are not content merely teaching our kids about God, we want them to know God for themselves. Pray, plan, and prepare this segment of the curriculum with utmost care. When working with younger children, it is best to stick with one primary focus for the Personal Application Time. If the curriculum has several steps, choose the one that the Holy Spirit is highlighting and stick with that. It’s better for our kids to stay engaged with the Holy Spirit for a short amount of time and have clear, solid instructions on what to do, than to be lost, uninterested, and overwhelmed.
Customizing the Small Group Time
Small Group Time is a space to discuss the lesson, ask questions, share testimonies, pray together, and build relationships with one another. When working with preschoolers, it’s best to have realistic expectations. 3-5-year-olds are not fully socially developed, meaning they still need training in basic social skills. Be prepared to coach the children in character training, honoring someone when they’re speaking, being a good listener, encouraging each other, etc. For example, when Susie is sharing a testimony from her journal of how she overcame her fear of the dark this week, expect the other kids to listen and honor Susie as she speaks. Then when it’s their turn to share, all eyes will be on them as well.
Customizing the curriculum is not only beneficial, but can be fun. Kids Empowered is intentionally teacher-focused. We want your unique gifts and qualities to shine through as you adjust and work with this basic guideline in training children up in the ways of the Lord. Never underestimate the power of prayer and the value of preparing good solid meat for our children to eat each week. They are hungry! We need only to feed them!