Sunday School Where Every Child Belongs
Lynn Swedberg, United Methodist Deaconess and disability consultant, February 2022
Goal – for ALL children to learn that Jesus loves them and learn how to act as followers of Jesus.
Mark 10:13-16: People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
- Find a space with no stairs to the class and toilet area.
- Let parents and the congregation know that all children are welcome in your class.
Supporting each child
- Ask parents for tips to help their child do their best – what do they enjoy? Are there things that upset them? What do they do well?
- Ask if students have allergies or health needs such as seizures? What should you do if they occur?
- Praise children for sharing, helping, waiting, and other ways they show they are followers of Jesus.
- Show Jesus’s love in the way you work with each child.
- Make sure teachers know that a child who acts out is trying to let you know that something is wrong or to get your attention, not being a bad child.
- Some children may do better with a friend who helps them be a part of the group.
- Moving is ok; some children can’t sit still and learn best with movement.
- Set up a quiet corner for students who need a break from the activity – it could have rugs, pillows, items to touch, and a rocking chair.
Planning lessons for all students
Plan your lesson so children with different abilities and interests can work together and choose what to do. Plan a variety of tasks so that everyone can do something.
Have a lesson plan but stay open to changing the plan based on the students’ interests and responses. Below are some examples:
- Have children write or paint the Bible verse of the day on a piece of cardboard.
- Others may color, draw, or stamp designs on the cardboard.
- Have students cut or tear the cardboard apart to make a puzzle.
- Have students put the puzzle together afterwards.
- Say or sing the verse, reading a few words at a time and having students repeat what you read.
- Some may want to shake a shaker bottle (plastic bottle with a few rocks inside) or wave a fabric strip.
- Moving a body part with a partner (hold hands and raise arms, turn head, or stomp feet) to music or words is another way to take part.
- Have children act out the Bible story and play the part of Jesus’ followers.
- For children who want to, place a scarf over their head and tie it on with a strip of cloth.
- Have students make Biblical figures or finger puppets from cardboard tubes that they paint.
- Bring an item to class that reminds you of God, for instance a beautiful rock or flower, that helps the children learn that God created a beautiful world for us to enjoy.
- help all students look for signs of God in creation and in helpful, loving people.
- After the class, talk about what went well and what to do differently next time.