by Karen Jones
When I was a Kids Minister searching for a curriculum to use in my ministry, my first task was to look at a curriculum’s scope and sequence. A curriculum’s scope and sequence is simply its plan. Scope indicates the content the curriculum intends to cover. Sequence indicates the order in which the content will be covered. Looking at a curriculum’s scope and sequence will help you make a quick decision if the curriculum is worth considering for your ministry or not.
First of all, it should be clear that the curriculum is teaching the Bible. You should see specific Books of the Bible and passages covered. If that isn’t readily apparent, move on.
Once you are sure you are looking at a Bible-based curriculum, look at the parts of the Bible it covers. Does it spend ample time in both the New Testament and the Old Testament? Does it include a variety of Biblical genres? Are there Books of the Bible avoided altogether? When Paul is giving his farewell to the Epheisan elders in Acts 20, he says, “Therefore I declare to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God.” I love how the ESV renders that last phrase, “the whole counsel of God.” Let’s be sure to give the children we serve “the whole counsel of God.”
Once you are satisfied with the scope of the curriculum, take a look at its sequence. How long will it take to move through the curriculum? At what age will a child who started the curriculum, finish the curriculum? How long does the curriculum spend in different Books of the Bible? More practically, what is the time span you want this curriculum to cover? If you want a six-week curriculum, a curriculum with a three-year session plan, won’t be a quick fit, but could it be adapted to work?
When I first came to Lifeway, I was impressed and encouraged by the amount of careful consideration and deliberation that goes into planning each scope and sequence for the curriculums we produce. As an editor for The Gospel Project for Kids, I know firsthand the number of hours and voices that go into our three-year chronological scope and sequence. We are careful to spend a year and a half each in the Old and New Testaments. Our three-year plan ensures that a child will hear the complete story of redemption three times: as a preschooler, younger elementary, and older elementary student.
My friends on the Bible Studies for Life Kids team are just as serious about their three year study plan. They use the Levels of Biblical Learning as their guide to make sure 10 biblical concept areas—God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Bible, Salvation, Creation, Church, People, Family, Community & World—are presented through eight different age ranges, from infancy through high school, and reflect levels of understanding that follow how God designed children to learn.
My friends on the Explore the Bible Kids team believe every kid is worthy of every Book of the Bible, not just the ones that are easiest to read. Their scope and sequence takes them through every Book of the Bible in five years. They lead kids to practice the routines and skills required to better read, know, and apply God’s Word.
What are other things you consider as you choose curriculum for your ministry?