What Parents and Kids Want in VBS

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Discover what makes a good VBS…

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We thought it would be interesting to talk to some end-users of VBS–parents and children. After all, these people are the final frontier that your VBS is trying to reach.

Eleven-year-old Chris Turpin of Richmond, Kentucky, understands what vacation Bible school is trying to achieve each summer. “You have to learn about Christ,” Chris says, “but it has to be fun too. Make it interesting.”

And how do you do that? Include the elements that the experts say are crucial to a great VBS.

The Fun Factor
“A good vacation Bible school is one that really teaches the truth about Jesus but it is also fun,” says Joann Becker, a director of parish education in Plantation, Florida. “It teaches kids that church is a warm, welcoming place where they can learn about their Savior.”

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Parents agree. “As a parent, it’s important to see your child having fun,” says Sandy Murphy of Fox Point, Wisconsin. “They need to be having fun and learning at the same time. In summer when kids are off school, fun should be the focus, not academics.”

Hands-On Learning
“I think what makes a good vacation Bible school is when kids are always doing something, when there’s a point each day, and when that point is emphasized in every area the kids go to,” says Brenda Berding, a director of religious education in Fishers, Indiana. “What we’re covering needs to come alive for the children. When putting a VBS together, people need to think ‘how is the child going to view this? How can the child use this in his or her life?’ ”

Emily Fairbanks, a parent in Arlington, Texas, stresses the importance of variety. She says, “Kids have different learning styles so a learning station approach works well–where there’s lots of change and opportunities to do a variety of things, like music, drama, and so on. It should be action-packed. Kids should go from thing to thing–not just sit in a room all day.”

This approach is also the most teacher-friendly, according to Lydia Ruffin, a Mobile, Alabama parent. “I think theme-based curricula are the best, especially where children move from room to room,” Lydia says. “Everybody’s so busy right now; this way teachers only need to learn one lesson and then do the same activity each night. They become familiar with it, and they can adapt it throughout the week for different age groups.”

Rockin’ Music
For 9-year-old Danielle Sheahan of Kingston, Ontario, music is the best part. A good VBS has to have “fast songs with a beat and a bit of rock. Kids find the slow hymns boring sometimes,” Danielle says.

Thirteen-year-old Marcus Klem of Ontario, New York, agrees with Danielle. “I like fast songs. The ones last summer were African songs.”

Eleven-year-old Tripp Morris of Tifton, Georgia, says, “I like the singing when it’s different every time you go.”

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