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Here's why you SHOULDN'T align your preschool and elementary lessons.


One of the most frequent questions we get asked here at GO! Curriculum is “Why don’t your preschool lessons align with the elementary lessons?” In other words, why aren’t preschoolers learning the same stories at the same time as the older kids?

 

That’s a great question!

 

And I understand where it’s coming from.

 

For the past 15 or so years in the children’s ministry world, there’s been a popular movement to have kids of all ages (and sometimes even adults) learning the same thing at the same time.

 

There are definitely advantages to doing this, but here’s why GO! doesn’t follow the trend:

 

The advantages to aligning preschool and elementary lessons are less than most people believe and the cost is much higher than most people realize. In short, the cost outweighs the benefits.

 

Let’s break that down.


What are the advantages of aligned learning?

The main argument for having preschoolers and elementary kids learning the same thing at the same time is that it allows parents to more easily engage with their kids at home about what they learned at church. Simply put, you’re setting parents up to more easily continue the conversation beyond Sunday and into the week.

 

And I agree with this. It’s certainly easier to talk to your kids about one story than it is two.

 

Case closed, right?

 

Well, maybe not.

 

The argument starts to break down when you consider how few families this actually benefits and how few parents are actually taking advantage of it.

 

Ask yourself this—what percentage of the families in your children's ministry have kids in both preschool and elementary?


It’s probably less than you think.

 

Some families only have one kid. Some families have all preschool kids and younger. Some have all elementary and older. In fact, there’s only a relatively small subset of families with kids in both preschool and elementary at the same time.

 

And here’s another question—what percentage of the families with kids in both preschool and elementary are talking about the lesson during the week? Sadly, for most churches it’s very low, which means that the number of families benefiting from aligned learning is a subset of a subset.

 

“But David,” someone might say, “even if there’s only a few families taking advantage of it, shouldn’t we do it for their benefit? Besides, who’s it hurting?”

 

Great question! Let’s talk about that.


Who’s it hurting?

It goes without saying that a 4-year-old and a 9-year-old learn on different levels and at different speeds, so when you align the lessons, either the elementary kids have to slow down for the preschoolers or the preschoolers have to speed up for the elementary kids.

 

And guess what inevitably happens.

 

With every curriculum that aligns preschool and elementary, it's the elementary lessons that set the pace and it's the preschoolers who have to keep up. This negatively impacts the age-appropriateness of the preschool lessons.

 

Consider this...

 

There are rich Biblical truths in the parables of Jesus that a 4th grader should be learning. But parables are metaphors, and preschoolers are concrete thinkers.  They’re simply not old enough to understand most parables. The same goes for the armor of God. And what about stories like Cain and Abel that deal with difficult subject matters?

 

Moreover, even when a Bible story is appropriate for both ages, preschoolers need to move at a slower pace. Repetition is critical at that age. Even if it's not the Bible story they repeat, it’s important for them to repeat the same main point and/or Bible verse for multiple weeks.


That’s how they remember!

 

And that's why GO! Curriculum parks on the same Big Idea and Bible verse for 2-3 weeks, which in turn dictates the Bible stories we tell. (You can see what that looks like in our preschool scope and sequence.) If we aligned preschool with elementary, we couldn’t do that!

 

And whereas aligned learning only benefits a subset of a subset of families, it negatively impacts 100% of the preschoolers.

 

The math just doesn’t work out!


Why does it matter?

Aligned learning has become somewhat of a sacred cow for a lot of churches, so it’s understandable that some leaders feel unsettled when it's challenged.

 

But it needs to be.

 

Somebody needs to speak up for the preschoolers!

 

Nobody ever says, “Let’s have preschoolers do the same math problems or read at the same level as elementary kids. That way it’ll be easier for parents to help them with their homework.” We don't say that because we all recognize there are educational stepping stones to learning. You have to be able to count before you can add. You have to learn the ABCs before you can read.

 

The same applies to spiritual formation and Biblical literacy.

 

Does this mean that Family Ministry is less important? No way!!! But there are more effective ways of doing it that don't come at an unacceptable cost to preschoolers. Besides, even when the lessons don't align, parents who want to continue the conversation at home can still do that. In fact, they can do it more effectively because their preschoolers will now have a better grasp of what they learned at church.

 

Research shows that when you reach people with the gospel at an early age, they’re more likely to become lifelong followers of Jesus. That's why children's ministry is so important! But I would take it further…


I would say that preschool ministry is the most important part of the children’s ministry.

 

Why?

 

Because that’s when kids begin learning how to walk in faith.

 

If we ever hope for kids to one day run the race toward an “imperishable crown,” we’ll first need to help them take their first steps toward Jesus!




 


Try it for FREE today


When you become a free member of GO! Curriculum, you'll gain access to a library of content that allows you to see why KidMin leaders LOVE it!

 

The library includes:

· Elementary lessons 

· Journey Today Show episodes (elementary videos)

· Preschool lessons 

· Topher Time episodes (preschool videos)

· Coloring sheets

· Training videos

· And more...



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