Resources for Children’s Christian Formation
A dizzying array of Sunday School resources are available to the parish director of Christian education or Christian education committee. Go into any Christian bookstore or browse online, and you will soon be overwhelmed by the wide variety of resources offered for purchase.
What is right for you and your parish? What is good and what is not-so-good? I’m sure all offerings are well-intentioned, but here’s what I recommend you think about before buying or signing up for a program:
- What denomination publishes the material? Is it a denomination that is the same or compatible with yours? (One look at the copyright page in the front usually tells you this.)
- Does the material accurately tell the Bible story or concept? (A lot don’t; browse through some key stories you know and see what the material does with it.)
- Is the material or program a good fit for the age of children you hope to teach? Particularly if the program is one of the Montessori programs, are your teachers on board and supportive of the program?
- Is this program something your parish can reasonably pull off? What kind of teacher training is required (this can range from 0 to 100 hours)? How much do materials cost and how are they obtained (internet order, local bookstore, make them yourselves)?
For Episcopal parishes, I recommend that you choose an Episcopal-developed program or curriculum. Call me crazy, but if you want to share our denomination with our children, you need to teach them about our traditions and theological “take” on things, not somebody else’s.
These are curricula I have personally used and would recommend, based on the criteria above (with links to websites/resources) and in alphabetical order:
- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (tweaked for Episcopalians): http://www.cgsusa.org
- Episcopal Children’s Curriculum: http://www.vts.edu/podium/default.aspx?t=122314&rc=1
- Godly Play
Materials available through http://www.godlyplayfoundation.org/newsite/Main.php
Books and printed material available through http://www.churchpublishing.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=landingPage&pageID=17&categoryID=344&tagID=
- Living the Good News (I used this for Children’s Chapel for homily preparation)
I have also recommended (though have not used but have looked at it closely for rotation method classes):
- WorkshopCycles: http://leaderresources.org/workshopcycles
Vacation Bible School Curricula? Lenten Program?
Episcopal Relief & Development’s Abundant Life Garden Project program, 5 lesson plans and supplemental resources to introduce children to the work and ministry of Episcopal Relief and Development. Free and online, available at www.er-d.org/children. Excellent resources for youth and adults are found are www.er-d.org/formation.
Blessings on your work, whatever program/curriculum you choose,