Should You Write Your Own Kids’ Curriculum, or Tailor Someone Else’s?

Summary: Curriculum is your BFF when it works FOR you, making everything easier, more enjoyable, and edifying for the children in your care. Discover the pros and cons of writing your own kids curriculum, and learn why tweaking an existing program could be a great alternative!

Who Am I?

Hi! My name is Karen McGraw. I am the managing editor of RoseKidz—a line of children’s devotionals and children’s ministry resources. Prior to that I was managing editor at Gospel Light Publishing and have written for Joni and Friends and David C. Cook. Altogether, I have 20 years’ experience developing curriculums for children’s ministry.

I’ve also got 25+ years as a teacher using a variety of curriculums both in a public-school classroom and as a children’s ministry volunteer. As a kidmin volunteer, the churches I attended didn’t always use the curriculums I wrote (believe it or not…). Some did, but others used a different company’s curriculum, and some wrote their own curriculums.

Who Are You?

What’s your church size: 50? 50-500? 500-5,000? Over 5,000? And where are you from: The South? Southeast? Southwest? Northwest? Midwest? Northeast? Hawaii/Alaska? What did I miss?

And we won’t even go into denominations—Or denominations within denominations! What I’m getting at is that there is a GREAT variety of churches out there. And no curriculum will be one-size fits all.

So, Why Not Write Your Own?

So some of you may be writing your own curriculum (show of hands) or perhaps thinking about it (show of hands). Maybe you feel pressure to write your own—either to conform to what’s happening in “Big Church” or to save money.

Of course, maybe you just want to write your own! Which is understandable, considering kidmin leaders are the most creative and clever people in the universe. But you know what? So are the folks who develop curriculum on a professional level. And they have the additional advantages of having more time and employees than you likely do. Now there are exceptions to that. There are mega-churches with mega-staffs and mega-budgets that CAN and do write quality materials. But for the vast majority of churches, that isn’t the case.

Don’t Discount Your Time

Kidmin people are creative, selfless people. It’s really easy to say that you’ll do it yourself. But is that the best use of your time? Publishers take MONTHS even YEARS to develop materials. And they have teams of employees and freelancers to get the job done.

So let’s do the math: How much money did you spend on your last curriculum? Divide that by the amount of money you make an hour. Could you write that curriculum in that given number of hours?

Let’s say you were able to write a month of lessons in a week—that’s just four lessons. And let’s say you only spend half your time doing it. Well, that’s still 20 hours. And if you pay yourself only $10 an hour (peanuts!) that’s still $200 for one month’s curriculum. Or $2,400 a year.

Christian publishers would LOVE to charge $2,400 for a year of curriculum! And that’s just for one age level!

Benefits of Tailoring an Existing Curriculum: You Need the Big Picture

Publishers spend time developing a Scope and Sequence that gives a good representation of both Old and New Testament stories. They do this so that you won’t end up teaching Jonah every six months. Also, there is time and consideration given to covering the whole Bible within a period of time, and across age levels. A Scope and Sequence also can help avoid the confusion often brought on by skipping back and forth between Old and New Testament stories.

In addition to having a variety of creative minds working on a curriculum, publishers also have the benefit of feedback from thousands of other churches, over a long period of time. We get to hear what does work, and what doesn’t work. And that not only allows us to fix what’s broken, but informs future development.

But Something’s Missing…

No matter how good a curriculum is, no matter how many items on your “wish list” are checked off, there will be lessons that don’t quite work, or something else that is missing. Do you want to present the gospel every week, but the lesson doesn’t? Fine, add it in. Do you not care for the game or the craft suggested? Fine. There are many supplemental teaching resources available. And Pinterest is a great source of ideas.

The main point is that you’re spending time ENHANCING and REFINING the curriculum, rather than CREATING one from scratch. And how much “honing” is your brand-new written from scratch lesson going to get before you teach it to your kids? Your time is precious. Make the most of it.

To Sum Up

If you have the right resources and support, sometimes writing your own kids curriculum can be a viable option. But if you’re short on time and volunteers, consider tailoring an existing program to fit your needs.

Karen McGraw is Managing Editor of RoseKidz, an imprint of Rose Publishing.

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About 28nineteen

28nineteen was birthed in response to the mandate given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19 to go into the world with the greatest product in the world, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

28nineteen Curriculum strives to follow this command by creating Sunday School and Children’s church materials that are fun, flexible, and most importantly, Bible-centric.


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