Measuring Kids’ Spiritual Growth

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Education without assessment is like spitting in the wind.

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You pour so much energy into planning for kids’ spiritual growth,
but how can you be sure you’re accomplishing all your lofty goals?
First, you have to know your goal. Then you have to gauge whether
you’ve accomplished that goal. Education without assessment is like
spitting in the wind.

How can we ever know if we’re really hitting our target?

Once a lesson or unit is completed, use these assessment methods to
actually measure whether kids are “getting it.”

1. Observations-Set up an experience where you can
see the lesson objective accomplished in kids’ lives. For example,
if your objective is good sportsmanship, play a game of balloon
volleyball after the lesson. Observe kids’ sportsmanship.
2. Verbal Responses-Ask kids directly. If you’ve
just studied forgiveness, ask them to tell about one person they’ve
forgiven during your study.
3. Written Records-Have kids keep a prayer journal
of letters to God. Review their work at the end of each unit to see
how they’re applying all they’ve learned. Or kids can create a
send-home newspaper about the things they’ve learned.
4. Drawings-Have kids sketch a Bible story they’ve
learned about, create a mural, or draw a cartoon strip. If you’re
dealing with a specific character quality, kids could draw how that
character quality would look in different settings. Have kids use
sidewalk chalk to illustrate their application of a lesson.
5. Projects-A lesson on giving? Have kids work
together to create a project where they give to needy people. Give
them plenty of decision-making authority.
6. Self-Evaluation Tools-At the beginning of the
year, give kids a rating scale for a dozen faith-related items. For
example, an item could be “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my
faith in God as…”
Kids can rate themselves at the beginning and end of the year. Then
they can evaluate how they’ve grown, what contributed to their
growth, and areas where they can continue to grow.
7. Portfolios-Keep files in the classroom of the
kids’ work to show what they’ve been learning in class. Send the
files home quarterly and have parents review their child’s
progress, sign a form, and return the portfolio to the church. Have
kids write notes periodically in their portfolios to explain why
they’ve chosen to save the work they have and how they’ve
experienced growth in their faith.
8. Teacher-Student Conferences-Take a kid out for
a Coke and ask three or four basic questions such as, “What’s
something you’ve learned this quarter in our class that’s really
made a difference in your life?” or “What’s one thing that you’ve
been able to apply from a Bible lesson we’ve done?”
9. Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences-At the
beginning of a year, have the teacher explain the curriculum, the
objectives, and the classroom management plan for the parent and
child. Then have the parent and child explain things they’d like to
see the child learn and grow in during the year. At the year-end
conference, review these notes to affirm and celebrate all the
growth that’s occurred.
10. Small-Group Conferences-Have groups of kids
assess their growth together. Give them three or four guiding
questions for evaluation such as, “How well did we accomplish the
objective? What contributed to our success? What hard things did we
have to overcome? What would we do differently next time?”
11. Journals-Have each child keep an ongoing
journal. Divide the pages into two sections: “What I’ve Learned”
and “Future Goals.” Have kids keep track of what they’re learning
and goals they’re reaching.
12. Class Scrapbooks-Take photos of kids in
action. Have kids actually put together a scrapbook and comment on
the things they’ve done and the ways they’ve applied God’s Word to
their lives. Have children share their class scrapbook with
visitors.
13. Faith History Projects-In booklets, have kids
chronicle their faith history through photos, dates of important
events, letters from people who’ve watched them grow spiritually,
and their written observations. Have kids specifically note the
things they’ve learned in class this year.
14. Video Projects-Have kids create videos that
integrate the objective of the lesson or unit. Perhaps kids could
adapt a parable into modern-day situations. Or children could
videotape themselves performing a rap song that incorporates what
they’ve learned.
15. Audio Projects-Interview each child at the
beginning of the year with a list of 10 questions that’ll reflect
the things they should learn this year, such as “What is prayer?”
Then use the same tape and list of questions for each child to
record their answers at the end of the year. Have kids listen to
and comment on the differences.
16. Living Bible Museums-At the end of a unit or
several units, have kids create museum exhibits. They can dress as
characters they’ve studied, create environments for Bible stories,
or design interactive exhibits such as what a plague of frogs
would’ve felt like. Wandering tour guides can be Bible characters
who act out and speak in character. Invite other classes to the
museum.
17. Story Boxes-Have each child fill a box with
items that a Bible character may have had or used. Have children
bring their boxes to class and have other kids guess who each
character is.
18. Dramatic Presentations-Let the kids decide
what kind of presentation they’d like to do-pantomime, musical, or
one-act play. Then have them work together to create their drama
and present it to parents. Encourage children to incorporate the
things they’ve learned.
19. Living Bible Verses-Give kids a list of Bible
verses that they need to “live out” outside of class. Once they’ve
lived a verse, have each child and his or her parent sign a form
detailing how the verse was applied.
20. Individualized Educational Programs
(IEP’s)-
Use an IEP with each child. On a sheet of paper,
list the areas of need a child has, your plans to help that child
grow in those areas, and how you’ll know if you’ve accomplished
each objective. Keep children’s IEPs in a file folder. Regularly
pray over each child’s IEP and evaluate the progress.
21. Teacher for a Day-After a unit, have children
work in teams to develop a lesson on the topic for younger
children. Then have them present their lesson plan to you and
ultimately teach the lesson to a younger class.
22. Music-Have kids create a song that’d encourage
others to learn the same things they have. Children can put the
words to a familiar tune. Arrange for children to teach their song
to the entire congregation-or at least to the children’s
church.
23. Show and Tell-Have children bring an object
from home that illustrates the lesson’s objective. For example, if
children have learned about their importance in the body of Christ,
have them bring something that shows where they might fit in the
body of Christ. One child may bring a blanket to illustrate that
she can provide warmth and caring to others.
24. Role Plays-After a unit, present scenarios
that require the application of the lesson’s content. Then have
children work together to role play solutions to the problem. For
example, if your lesson’s content was on Christ-like communication,
present several situations that require good communication and have
kids work it out.
25. Sculpting-Have kids use different media to
create sculptures that illustrate what they’ll do to apply a
lesson’s objective to their lives. Kids can sculpt clay, aluminum
foil, pipe cleaners, or paper.

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