"To begin to understand and relate to God the Creator, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit... To feel comfortable with spontaneous prayer and to have experienced various kinds of prayer (intercession, thanksgiving and praise)."
Creating Learning Goals in Churches
Many churches seek to create learning goals for age levels in their Christian education classes. Not all children of a similar age are academically or socially on the same level, but having a general sense of what can be an extra focus in addition to whatever curriculum you are using can be a helpful benchmark. Below is a sample set of learning goals, described within an Episcopal context.
Preschool and Kindergarten
- To know that God loves the child deeply.
- To talk with and respond to God.
- To know that we're God's children, created by God to love.
- To experience church as a lively, secure place where people care about and listen to them.
- To know teachers' and classmates' names.
- To explore a few Old Testament stories and many from the New Testament, especially stories of Jesus.
- To learn key phrases from the church's liturgy: Amen. Thanks be to God.
- To understand that at baptism we are washed with water and welcomed into God's family.
- To understand that at communion we eat bread and drink wine, happy that God loves us.
Grades 1, 2, and 3
- To know the names, colors and symbols of the liturgical seasons.
- To begin to understand and relate to God the Creator, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
- To feel comfortable with spontaneous prayer and to have experienced various kinds of prayer (intercession, thanksgiving and praise).
- To understand that God creates and loves our world and that we in turn are responsible for caring for it.
- To know the Bible stories that recount Christmas, Easter and Pentecost events.
- To understand Jesus' acts, as recounted in the Bible that lead to our celebrations of Baptism and Eucharist and recognize the actions of both sacraments as experienced in worship.
- To understand key phrases from worship - the Nicene or Apostles' Creed, The Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments (memorization is less important than familiarity and understanding).
- To experience church as a welcoming community, learning that they are an important part of the people of God.
Graces 4 and 5
- To begin to expand a role in the church family: serving as an acolyte, singing in the youth choir, ushering, greeting members of the congregation
- To memorize and understand key phrases from worship services and biblical passages: the Nicene Creed, the Ten Commandments, The Lord's Prayer, the Confession, certain prayers
- To master Bible skills (introduced in Grade 3); to be able to read and discuss short biblical passages
- To explore the plot and characters in Jesus' parables
- To become familiar with stories that tell of Jesus' care for the sick, the poor and the outcast
- To gain an understanding of Church seasons, colors and symbols, creating symbols with personal meaning
- To explore the liturgies for Eucharist and Baptism, connecting the sacraments with biblical events and our relationship to God today
- To explore promises that we make to God (Baptismal vows), connecting them to daily actions
Grades 6, 7 and 8
- To begin building a more mature self-image, more stable relationships (outside of the family) and a more coherent understanding of the world
- To begin involvement in ministry - sacking food at a food pantry, collecting supplies for a homeless shelter, etc.
- To begin to identify one's gifts
- To become more fully involved in the church community by volunteering to serve
- To be able to explain the biblical story of God's people and the life of Jesus
- To begin to reflect on scripture and its meaning in our lives
- To understand the format of the lectionary and how it ties to the liturgical calendar
- To reflect on and discuss moral issues, including sexual expression, from a Christian perspective
- To gain a sense of responsibility for belonging to large and small communities, including the development of listening skills
- To pursue study leading to a choice about Confirmation
- To become familiar with books related to one's faith tradition such as the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer
- To understand the basic governing structure and polity of your denomination
Sharon Ely Pearson is a 30+ year Christian formation veteran, currently serving as an editor and the Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated. Wife, mother, grandmother, and author, she enjoys connecting people with each other and the resources they need for growing in the knowledge and love of Jesus.
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