Sunday School Curriculum
The actions of listening and responding to the word of God are the heart of worship in the children’s center. A story is told and the children respond to it. Using a multi-sensory approach, the story is presented with wooden or felt materials children can work with individually after the story is presented and responded to. The arrangement of the story presentations provides a way for children to follow Jesus through biblical stories that show who Jesus is, what he is teaching about the kingdom of God, why he is calling people to follow him, and what he is sending them into the world to say and do.
This approach to worship with young children is different from the usual ways of teaching about worship. It shows children how to worship God instead of just teaching about worship. Worship flows from our love of God and requires active participation. It is difficult to describe worship in a book because it is experiential. The storytelling method is also difficult to describe because it is visual, oral and kinesthetic.
We intend to extend and deepen 5-8 year old children’s understanding of Jesus and his teaching of the way of the reign of God as it prepares them for Christian discipleship. The environment for telling the stories and parables continues to be the context of worship within a multi-sensory worship center designed for children.
The sequence of the stories allows young children to know the course of Jesus’ life before they have a well-developed sense of chronology. It also helps them to see Jesus’ life as a whole life, rather than as a variety of unrelated events or stories about Jesus.
Special attention is given to the church as sanctuary to emphasize that, like a sanctuary, the children’s worship center is to be a safe place. Children are to be and feel safe in the worship center. This helps meet their basic need for security, which is necessary as they discover new things. They need a secure environment in which to explore, wonder, puzzle, and create.
Young children do have a fundamental awareness of the holy. Although they may not be interested in the various forms of religion prescribed for them, they are interested in God, and their faith can be formed as they are invited into the stories and parables of scripture. We intend to show a way of being in worship with children 5-8 years of age, although some of the stories may be appropriate for 3-4 year old children. Children love stories. When you tell biblical stories using the narrative language of scripture without embellishing the stories and extraneous details or turning them into lessons, children enter biblical stories with wonder, awe, and amazement. This is the way people around Jesus responded when he told a story or performed a healing as he showed them the way of the reign of God.
Young children learn first through their bodies, emotions and senses. As you will see, children’s worship centers are intentionally designed multisensory environments. Biblical stories are “translated” into felt and wooden materials so the stories can be sensed, felt emotionally, and “read” visually as well as heard. The materials are constructed for the children’s use, so the materials “live” on low, open shelves where they can be seen by and are accessible to the children.
~ excepts taken from Young Children & Worship by Sonja Stewart and Jerome Berryman