Is it time for a new curriculum? The great news is, an excellent curriculum that’ll benefit your ministry is out there—it’s just a matter of finding it! Here’s a primer on all the benefits of selecting a published program as well as a checklist on implementing curriculum in your ministry.
Curriculum Aspects to Review
Curriculum providers today offer a variety of quality options. You must use a discerning eye and take the time to find the options and how they’ll fit with your ministry, families, and the larger church. Here are key elements to look for in a curriculum.
First and foremost, you need a curriculum that’s built on a basis of biblical truths and solid theology. Explore the scope and sequence of the curriculum you’re considering. Most providers offer sample lessons to review. From these samples, you’ll get a good idea of how Scripture shows up throughout the curriculum and whether it meets your ministry expectations.
We recognize that parents are central to kids’ faith development. A solid curriculum choice will recognize this as well. Faith-based, family-focused interaction outside of church is a real strength in a curriculum. Look for how a program equips parents to take the lead at home, even if it’s in small ways.
Most good programs are very practical. They walk teachers through what to expect from a lesson, the specific supplies they need, the Scripture basis, and how to prep and pray beforehand. Look for the practical side of the curriculum. After all, making life easier for your teachers is a great retention tool. Plus, prepared teachers ensure a better experience for children.
4. Discipleship Plan
One of the greatest advantages to curriculum is that it typically offers a developed plan for kids’ discipleship—from their early years through preteen years. When you review a scope and sequence, evaluate how well the discipleship plan equips kids with biblical training and faith growth.
5. Best Practices
Curriculum development teams often include ministry experts, writers, and editors equipped with ministry experience and educational expertise. That means a solid program will focus on scripturally sound faith development that’s infused with educational best practices.
Kids have a variety of learning styles. Good media is key to enhancing kids’ learning. View samples of the media whenever possible. Assess the production value and relevance. This includes music.
14 Steps for Successfully Implementing Curriculum
When you decide it’s time to make the curriculum leap, establish a plan for how you’ll approach the change for the best results. Follow this checklist for before, during, and after you make the change.
Before Implementing New Curriculum
1. Get Leadership Input.
Begin the process of gathering information. Ask your pastor and other church leaders what they hope for in a curriculum. Invite them to share where they see current shortfalls and how they hope a new curriculum might better align with the church’s overall goals.
2. Ask Your Volunteers and Staff.
Then meet with your team to discuss what they’d ideally like to see in a new curriculum. What makes their roles easier? Are there aspects that could be better executed? What do they see that makes the most positive impact on kids’ learning? What would they get rid of or keep? Create a wish list, and then prioritize it.
3. Meet with Parents.
Invite their input on what works well for their families currently and what doesn’t. Ask for honest feedback, and invite parents to help create a parent wish list. With parent input, prioritize what matters most in this area.
4. Looks for What’s Lacking.
Then identify current shortfalls and areas you want to fix. You have a unique perspective about curriculum you’ve used in the past or are currently using. Create your own wish list (also by priority) for the new curriculum.
5. Solve Problems.
Determine the current problems and needs. What are existing problems and needs in your broader ministry? Are parent connections working? Are teachers overwhelmed by prep? Do you sense a lack of focus or depth in the program? List problems you’re attempting to fix along with the potential solution your curriculum choice might help with.
6. Align With the Vision.
What’s your ministry vision statement or mission? What would a new curriculum need to provide to help deliver on the mission?
7. Set Expectations.
Once you’ve selected a curriculum, prepare your leaders, team, parents, and kids for what’s coming. Explain the choice based on input from everyone. Describe what people can expect from the change, and ask for feedback along the way.
During Implementing New Curriculum
1. Invite Feedback.
As you begin the new curriculum, let people know there’ll be challenges and moments when it’s uncomfortable. Invite open dialogue, and ask regularly for feedback.
2. Update Your Team and Leaders.
Be flexible and open to adjustments. Keep everyone in the loop when there’s an issue or something to celebrate. And be sure to celebrate the wins—no matter how small they seem.
3. Check-in Often.
Keep a close eye on your team, and monitor how things are going. Do your best to respond to issues and concerns promptly.
Your ongoing dialogue with all key players will help ensure that a new curriculum’s implementation is successful. When parents raise a concern, address it.
After Implementing New Curriculum
1. Stay in Touch.
Keep in close contact with your team because they are the ones implementing the new program. What benefits are they seeing? Are there aspects they like or dislike? What would make their roles easier?
2. Update Your Leaders.
Work to keep your leadership team updated on how the curriculum is working. Be open about challenges and solutions. Point out success stories.
It’s important to take time to point out specifics about the positive changes the curriculum has made possible. It’s also important to acknowledge the effort and achievements of everyone involved—including kids, parents, teams, and leaders.