Use these 18 tips from children’s ministers who have successful summer Sunday schools.
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Teachers, parents, and kids want a break. You’d even like a break. You’d like to have summer Sunday school, but the bottom line is that you just don’t see how.
If you’re stumped, use these children’s ministers’ ideas to make summer Sunday school work for you.
Get people on your team with these expert seasonal tips.
- Recruit public school teachers and professionals. “Lots of people would rather work three months out of the year than nine months,” says Floridian Carl Lindelien. For additional tips, be sure to check out our article, 7 Summer Staffing Solutions.
- Recruit junior highers, senior highers, and “empty nesters.” “Kids are eager and anxious,” says Susan Turner from California. “And the adults are mature, wise, and nurturing.”
- Have recruits enlist others to help them. “That might be a husband or a wife, a daughter, son, or neighbor,” says Turner. It saves you work.
- Recruit college kids. “We budget money to pay these kids because they’re vital to the summer program and to church growth,” says Susan Leonardson from Minnesota. “And kids think college kids are great,” says Elaine Friedrich from Texas.
- Recruit teachers for a year. “Teachers know [the commitment]right from the beginning,” says Larry Miller from West Virginia. “But allow for flexibility in the summer for vacations.”
- Cultivate recruits all year. Turner emphasizes personal contacts. And Friedrich sends letters to past helpers in January, inviting them back for the next summer. You could send a cassette tape to prospective Sunday school teachers telling them about your ministry and how easy it is to volunteer.
Be creative with curriculum to break up the humdrum.
- Write your own curriculum. Leonardson’s church wrote a curriculum incorporating how the body is the temple of God with an active study of the human body.
- Do outside activities. For one activity, Lindelien set up stop-and-go sprinklers. Then kids acted out Moses crossing the Red Sea.
- Allow for drop-ins and inconsistent attendance. Don’t make your lessons dependent on previous weeks’ lessons. “Teachers can make each lesson meaningful,” says Lindelien.
- Include more activities. Linda Becken from Wisconsin offers more drama and crafts, and avoids worksheets
- Use the same curriculum all year. Robb Dunham from Colorado says using the same curriculum provides continuity.
- Organize learning centers. Friedrich has children rotate through learning centers every 20 minutes while teachers remain in their rooms.
- Use vacation Bible school curriculum. Many curriculum companies have 10-day options that can be spread out over the summer.
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Kids will enjoy a change of pace with these ideas.
- Meet on a different day. Judy Johnson from Minnesota directs a summer community Bible school with 14 churches and 600 kids. The different age groups meet two to three times a week-and not on Sunday.
- Offer Sunday school at each church service. Leonardson’s church has four services with Sunday school available at each service. Offer Sunday school between services. Miller’s church has Sunday school between two services for both adults and children.
- Plan around year-round schools. Dunham plans a plethora of activities. “All kids can’t make it to all outings or Sunday school,” says Dunham. Give them choices.
- Have a short summer session. Becken organizes a four-week session because teachers will only commit to a short time. And Friedrich has a nine-week program because school starts early.
- Allow for teachers’ schedules. Turner provides curriculum to volunteers who prefer to teach neighborhood Bible study groups at home on a weekday. “They have Sunday school right in their own home,” Turner says.
Barbara Beach is a past editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine.