In my ministry context, we focus early childhood curriculum on teaching key Bible stories. We are not concerned with chronology or units per se and we try pretty hard to make sure that what we are teaching and applying in the Bible story is sound. I believe that teaching Bible stories not only gives children key Biblical information, but it also gives them an appreciation for God’s Word as a story they can read, enjoy, and learn from.
As kids get older and move into Kindergarten, we focus more on series and themed units. Every week focuses on a Bible story with a main truth and every unit has a Bible verse. We use the same Bible story, main truth, and Bible verse from 4 years old through 5th grade. However, this process will change in the fall.
What I want to focus on briefly is the children’s ministry focus on teaching Biblical knowledge versus Biblical literacy and other faith skills. I am troubled when we focus all of our time in the church teaching information that can be accessed at a keystroke (or fingerstroke for the touchscreen users among us). This information is helpful but it is worth the amount of time we spend teaching it? Faith skills like Bible reading, prayer, Biblical literacy, honesty, and integrity – these are the kinds of things that stay with a child for a lifetime.
Recently a study was released by ScienceDaily involving kids and computers. The study looked at the results of schools using computers on student achievement. I’d like to share a brief quote from the key researcher: “Traditional print-based reading and writing is only part of a much larger skill set that students need in the 21st century.”
I think this applies to our work with children and families. Teaching Bible stories and how to find passages in the Bible is only part of a much larger faith skill set that children need. I think that digital resources can help us appropriate these skills in tremendous ways and we already have some examples (Willow Creek’s use of technology with 4th-5th graders and JIll Nelson’s children’s program using digital cameras and camcorders to retell Bible stories). Thoughts?
If you were to pick a set of 21st century skills, what would they include?