Growing in Awareness
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The church should be a place where communal learning for young children is built upon and extended.
These themed sessions provide fun, play-based teaching with lots of activity. Each session is based on a story, with a stated learning aim and related activity, illustration, prayer and suggested song. Topics covered include Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, Lent, Easter, The light of Christ, Following Jesus, Our homes and families and Caring for our world.
This book aims to help you come to God with the children in your heart, and to come to the children with God in your heart. All the illustrations in the book are included on the accompanying CD-ROM.
Growing in Awareness is drawn from the ‘Candles’ teaching of the popular ‘Searchlights’ programme.
Leader’s manual and accompanying CD-ROM (contains resources for sessions) available from Kevin Mayhew.
3-5 year olds
Good. Colourful, glossy paperback manual. Content layout is clear and well spaced, with instruction for when the CD-ROM needs to be used. Resources on CD-ROM are easy to find for each session.
One clear aim stated at the beginning of each session.
Very accessible. Leader's notes give instructions for the ‘Teaching' section in a word-for-word format which means leaders can stick exactly to what is stated if they are feeling less confident. Alternatively they can deviate from the script if more experienced. Song references are made in each session, however there is not a clear indication of where to access these songs meaning leader's have to be resourceful in their ability to find/access them.
Small group leaders/children's workers. Resource also suggests that the parents have some participation ever now and again in helping facilitate the sessions.
Good, clear, and linked to stories taught. Mainly involve colouring/making easy crafts.
CD-ROM contains all that is needed to successfully prepare for session activities where colouring/ templates are mentioned. Occasional mention of buying ‘Kidsource' CD too for worship songs for some sessions.
It is important for the leader to have the right motivations before running sessions. Leaders should be familiar with passages covered, and an emphasis is put on creating the right atmosphere for children to learn and engage. That is, make sure that there is enough space and chairs for children. Preparation is quick and easy as these sessions will last around 30 minutes - 45 minutes. Leader's just need to make sure they have crayons/glue/pens ready beforehand, and familiarity with sessions.
None explicitly mentioned.
No, although leaders may choose to use their own choices of songs in time. As the teachings stay true to the Bible, it is unlikely that the sessions will need to change much.
Resource recognises that children of this age range benefit from play-based learning. Therefore, interaction is key during the ‘Teaching' sections, and during ‘Activity' sections. This ranges from role play Bible delivery to treasure hunts and incorporation of games like ‘tag'.
Mostly caters for learning through questioning children in ‘Teaching' time and games in the second half of the sessions.
Emphasis on good atmosphere/ environment to be set up before children come to learn. Sessions seem to take around 30-45 minutes but this can easily be adapted by the leader. Works better with smaller groups of children, although larger groups can participate with more leaders to help. Resources need downloading from included CD-ROM and printing off. Over 170 sessions means there is something for any topic, and these do not necessarily need to be run in chronological order. Sessions can be used during church services on Sundays or in weekly groups/nurseries. Very quick and easy to prepare.
Gently encouraged by use of activity sheets in each session, prompting children to answer questions and by use of games associated with the topics covered.
50% of session time is spent on delivery of Bible teachings.
Good variety of Biblical delivery. Ranges from role play Bible stories to the use of contemporary alternatives to help children see the stories as relevant to them.
Children learn key qualities to live like Jesus in what they do, especially as most of their lives at the ages of 3-5 years is play related. They are taught to consider others, and love their families. No explicit practical examples necessarily of how they achieve this, as the material is aimed at young people. Mostly, children apply what they learn via prayer in sessions.
Open for use with a wide range of denominations. Small prayer is included in each session. There are sessions which explain the work of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity of God. Baptism is also covering in one session. As there are so many sessions, leaders can easily include/exclude sessions if they feel uncomfortable with working with children on certain topics. Also includes fantastics sessions for the lead up to Christmas and Easter.
Encouraged by explicit sessions on the need for disciples (page 125) and by gentle encouragement of children to learn how Jesus lived so that they can decide if they want to live like him. Children are taught that by trusting and obeying Jesus, we can please God and live our lives as fully as possible.
Encouraged by teaching about the significance of Jesus and telling children how much they are loved by God. They are taught the practical tools of being a follower of Jesus, such as praying and worshiping, as well as the importance of offering themselves to God so that they may be blessed with a life led by Him. Other topics go deeper and explain real issues children may need to recognise, such as the battle between good and evil.
Sessions teach about God's authority and power and explain that this has led to miracles. Children learn about God's purposes by looking at people He blessed, for example, his healing of the paralysed man in Mark's gospel, and of Naaman via Elisha. There is also a sessions specifically looking at the ‘God of Surprises' on page 121.
Connects directly with topics relevant for children today, for example, happiness, courage, bravery, generosity, humility and trusting God are all looked at by looking at examples in the Bible and contemporary examples too.
This is done well in the context of a resource for young children. Children are encouraged to ask God for help in their travels, and to ‘Pass on the Good News' (page 73). They are also taught about the fact that Jesus needed helpers i.e. disciples to do his work (page 125) and the importance of what apostles did (page 142). They are taught about how important the work of God is, and that even small children can have a role in this. Uses contemporary stories to show how we can grow the kingdom of God, for example by the parable of sowing seeds, and by letting children know that God gave us gifts and talents for a reason; to share them.
Encouraged by considering the needs of others by looking at examples where Biblical characters needed help. For example, the story of the rich man and Lazarus help children consider that poor people may need help (page 144). The story of ‘The Good Samaritan' encourages children to reach out to help anyone who needs it (page 182). Young people are also taught about the importance of behaving well at home with their families so that they can develop good qualities such as forgiveness, thanks, love and knowing when to say sorry.
Lots of small sessions on the fact that God loves the whole world and this should include people and problems in other countries. Subsection on caring for odour world, includes sessions on the creatures He has made, the importance of everyone in the world (page 185) and the fact that everything belongs to God so we should look after it.
Children learn that God cares for ALL people, both big and small, young and old. Uses contemporary stories to show how we can grow the kingdom of God, for example by the parable of sowing seeds, and by letting children know that God gave us gifts and talents for a reason; to share them.