Excitement is in the air. You can feel the anticipation of kids getting ready for school, the sigh of relief from parents that they may get a small break now, and the flutter of teachers’ hearts (and stomachs) as they prepare for another school year. Or is it the sensation of tension you feel? The nervousness of kids getting ready for their first day back or maybe even the anxiety and stress of teachers and parents alike? This year, it seems to be a bit of both worlds, excitement and anxiety. It’s the unknown of what teaching and learning during this pandemic will feel like and how it will unfold in the following months. So what will your Sunday School look like this fall? There are several options to satisfy the unique needs of your students and families. Let’s take a look.
Before you dive into one method or another, it’s imperative that you follow a couple of steps:
- Consult with the families in your church and with your leaders. Families will help guide you in your decision and can offer valuable insight into what their needs are for your program this fall.
- Gather your materials. Whether hosting in-person, virtually, or a combination of both, you will need to collect materials for leaders and students and distribute them.
- If you are hosting some form of virtual class, you will want to have a central location or hub where families can easily find information regarding your Sunday School including dates, materials, and contact information. This could be a page on your website or even a social media group page.
- Lastly, make sure to communicate your plans clearly and in a timely manner with your families and members of your congregation!
This year words such as hybrid and blended are becoming standard language when discussing school options for the fall. This option is just as it sounds, a blend of in-person and virtual learning. Families have the option of either attending in person or virtually every week, or half of your students attend in person one week and the following week, the other half attends in person. Any way you slice it, with a blended option, you will be offering in-person as well as virtual classes.
An important aspect of any Sunday School program is making sure students have access to physical and digital materials needed to connect to each lesson! One way is to create packets that families can pick up, which could include student books or leaflets, leader guides (if needed for virtual learning), coloring pages, craft supplies, and so on. You also need to think about how your virtual students will participate in classes each week. One easy way is to livestream your in-person lessons so students at home can follow along. The benefit of a blended model of teaching your Sunday School is kids get to interact in person with one another while also being cognizant of social distancing recommendations and guidelines.
Another word that you may hear lately is synchronous. This means that teaching and learning are done at the same time, or live. Choosing this option for Sunday School works well for families that want to meet at the same time each week, feel safe within their homes, and also want their children to have the opportunity to interact with other students and their teachers. Choosing the platform to use with your live classes is really a matter of preference for you and your parent. This could include social media sites such as Facebook or other media platforms such as Zoom or GoToMeetings. Again, with this option of learning, make sure families receive the materials they need to follow along with the lessons each week—and, of course, communicate!
The other virtual option that you can consider is flexible or asynchronous (yet another buzz word for this year). This is where teaching and learning are done at separate times. But what does that mean for your class? It means that you will create lessons ahead of time and families will choose when they want to work on the appropriate lesson for the week. This option gives you and your families the flexibility to dive into God’s Word at the time that fits best for you. Asynchronous lessons will be parent-led, and teachers can choose to create videos or activities to help parents navigate the lessons for their children.
Start Off with a Bang!
Now that you have decided which route is going to work best for you and your families, you can plan a Rally Day to welcome students back to Sunday School! Although you may not be able to host something in person, there are still plenty of ideas to keep your families excited and engaged for the coming year:
- Create a video collage for each age level that stars your students! Have them record a short video talking about their favorite Bible character, verse, or even their favorite food. This will help students feel connected to one another even if far away.
- Host a virtual open house where families can log on to meet teachers and other volunteers.
- Host a socially distanced get-together. A great option would be a bonfire with live music where kids can sing along together and maybe even make s’mores.
- Be sure to make prayer a part of your rally. Encourage congregation members, faculty, staff, and families to pray for one another and the year ahead!
There can be much uncertainty and nervousness about teaching in these new ways, but always remember that God is there for you. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Blessings on your fall teaching!