A majority of the churches in America and across the world have less than 100 members. These are small churches with small children’s ministries. Many of these churches will have all children in the same classroom for Sunday School. That means multiple age groups will be learning together in one Sunday School classroom.
What can a small children’s ministry do when they have children from kindergarten through sixth grade in the same group? Here are some ideas for how to bridge the age gap in your multi-age classroom on Sunday mornings. Click here to share your tips with other readers.
1. Establish Buddies
Pair one older child with one younger child as a “big buddy” and “little buddy.” The buddies can work together in a variety of ways in the classroom.
- Pair them up for working on scripture memorization. The older child will be amazed how easily the younger can memorize and the younger will enjoy helping the older learn a new verse.
- Pair them up for craft projects. Many times we do not attempt complex crafts with younger children because there are not enough adult helpers. In a multi-level classroom you have an advantage, which age-separated children’s ministries do not; you can utilize the “big buddy” to assist their “little buddy” in completing the craft. They can work on the craft together!
2. Utilize Experienced Readers
Children sustain more attentiveness when they are not hearing the same voice for the duration of the Sunday School lesson. Enlist your older students to read aloud the Bible verses. The older students will love reading aloud and the younger children will be eager for the day when they will get to read aloud in Sunday School!
3. Create Special Privileges for Older Children
Create certain privileges which can only be done by the older children. For example, if your classroom goes up through 6th grade, set aside special tasks only given to the 5th and 6th graders to complete.
- These older children could help lead the other children in singing a few songs at the beginning of class each week.
- These older children could be used to act out an upcoming Bible story, as an introduction for the other children, in the form of a play or reader’s theater.
- The older children could help set up and close down the room each week or make copies for the teacher before the start of class.
By setting aside special privileges for the older children, they will get to experience leadership and set an example for the younger children. This will also give the younger children something to look forward to doing when they become 5th graders.
4. Modify Supplemental Activities
Most lessons you will teach, when reading a passage from the Bible and explaining its meaning, will look similar across all elementary grade levels. The difference and challenge comes in the application and follow up activities.
- One modification is to break them up into age leveled groups at the close of a lesson to discuss how the lesson can be applied to their everyday life. Then the groups will report back to the whole class. There can be a K-1 reporter, a 2-3 reporter, and so forth until all groups have shared their application of the lesson.
- Another modification can be made in the area of crafts. The same craft can be completed by K-5 children, but for the K-2 children you can prep part of the craft ahead of time. You can have everything prewritten on their craft or you can precut parts of the project. The older children can complete all of the writing and cutting independently in the same about of time it takes the younger children to complete their modified version.
Serving in a small children’s ministry can be challenging, but it also has its great rewards! You get to know all of the children in your church personally. You are blessed to work with one child from kindergarten through 6th grade and see how they grow in their knowledge of the Lord over a period of years.