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Bible Teaching Tools and Best practices

Cover to Cover: Let’s get Familiar with your Kids’ GraceLink Study Guides – Part 1

By Karen Taylor

We are officially in the first month of the final quarter for the year. Where did the time go?

Last Sabbath, Thirteen Sabbath would have been the traditional distribution day for new quarterlies. Sabbath School secretaries in all churches should have distributed the class sets to each class teacher.

Have you received your child’s copy? If not, you could try contacting your Sabbath School Superintendent about whether they have arrived.  If it’s convenient for both of you, make arrangements so you can get the copy in your child’s hand before Sabbath.

If the printed copy is not available, remember you can get the audio and video podcasts from the GraceLink Resources page. I shared those resources with you in my last couple of posts.

It’s important that parents get up close and personal with your children’s Bible study guides. Challenge yourself to hep grow your child’s faith experience this quarter.

So you’re going to do three things for me:

1. Mark a time on your weekly calendar where you will devote 30 minutes to studying the Bible with your child if not each evening, at least three dates for the week, including Friday night Family worship. And stick to this plan.

2. Review the quarterly starting from its cover. Read the Parents Messages, look at the Scriptures and read through the story or access and listen to the podcasts resources I mentioned earlier.

3. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to help you lead by modeling worship and habitual Bible study with your family. Pray also for your child’s Sabbath School teacher so you can work together to undertake an effective ministry  to  children this quarter.

4.Once you have gotten familiar with the wonderful stories about Jesus and the Bible your child will be learning about this quarter, start planning fun ways to build and sustain your child’s interest in the lesson.

To help you with our  familiarisation challenge, let’s take a tour of the curriculum that your child has been studying since he joined a Sabbath School. For today, we’ll look at the various guides, and the concepts and approaches promoted by the curriculum.

Children’s Study Guide Familiarisation Primer for  SSchl.  Newbie Parents ( Veterans who need a Refresher Too)

This section serves as a primer for new parents and members just joining the church. Seasoned members who are new parents may also find the information  useful.

Our biggest, and dare I say, overarching responsibility as parents is to mould our children’s characters into Christlike characters and lead them by example into the kingdom. Setting a foundation built on the Bible and God’s word is the surest way to do this.

GraceLink Curriculum

download (2)Kindergarten-SSL

Primary-SSL Power-Points-SSL

The Church aids this process by writing and providing the curriculum that will introduce your child to God’s grace. GraceLink is the Church’s partner for writing our study guide curriculum. These guides are commonly called quarterlies and are used in all SDA Churches as the primary Bible study curriculum. All study guides presently bear a GraceLink logo you see on the front cover page.

The study guides offer opportunities to help your child learn to use the Bible and to know that what is studied comes from God’s Word. A different story is featured each week and link God’s amazing grace to your child’s everyday life. It provides daily opportunity for children to develop a spiritual habit of devotion with God. Encourage your child to delve in each day.

Mystery of the Letters

You’ve probably seen the words Year A, Year B and Year C on the cover of your child’s study guide and didn’t know what they refer to. Children are placed in four groups and each group assigned a letter of the alphabet.

Hence Year A refers to the  Beginners curriculum which ministers to children ages birth through 2 years, while the Year B Kindergarten curriculum ministers to the three to five age group.. Year C curriculum is written for the Primary class with kids between ages 6 to 9. They use the Primary Treasure study guide.

Children in the 10 to 12 year group use the Junior PowerPoints study guide while Earliteen (the 13 to 14 age group)  use the Real-time Faith study guide. However, these are mainly for larger churches which separate Junior and Earliteen classes. In smaller churches, this age group is usually combined with the Junior group, using a 4-year curriculum, or with the Youth group.

In my most recent posts, I have mostly shared Primary Treasure materials. If your child is in the Junior class, he can now download audio podcasts of the weekly story at http://www.powerpoints.org. A host of other resources such as a weekly crossword puzzle, games, quizzes and mission stories for kids in that age group can be accessed on that Page.

Guides for kids with special  disability and language needs

All guides are available in English, French and Spanish. GraceLink also provides resources for children who are visually impaired:  English Braille Primary Bible Study Guide. The Primary Bible Study Guide is available in English braille, free of charge, to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. To order the braille edition from Christian Record Services for the Blind, please fill out an online application form available from the GraceLink resources page.

4. Concepts

The entire GraceLink curriculum is developed around four important concepts – Grace, Worship, Community, and Service, all critical to Christian growth. To put it simply, in Sabbath School, your children are taught messages of

  1. Grace – Jesus loves me
  2. Worship – I love Jesus
  3. Community – We love each other
  4. Service – Jesus loves you too

Likewise, you’ll notice that each month, your child’s study guide places emphasis on one of these dynamics. However, the GraceLink Editors underscore that grace is the thread that runs through every lesson and knits them together to form a complete whole.”

General Structure of the Study Guide

The main sections of your child’s quarterly are its:

1. Front and Inside Cover

2. Introductory Pages

3. Content/Story Page

4. Study Activities Page

5. Back Cover

A View from the Front 

1. The front cover is your first visual window into a book or magazine, and serves as your introduction to the overall theme of the content that will be featured in your child’s study guide for the next 13 weeks.

 Appropriate Text and Illustration

All our guide covers are designed to appeal to the appropriate age group: those for the younger children in mind use colourful, large, clearly produced illustrations and appropriately present Bible ‘characters’ with friendly faces for the most part externally. Earliteen study guides tend to have black and white covers.

“Although black-and-white helps babies clearly                                                distinguish objects, colour is very important for older                                 kids. Colours do not need to be vibrant or garish to                                          appeal to children; studies have shown that pastels are                                     soothing and can encourage learning”                                                                                        – http://www.children’slit.com

The text on the GraceLink cover labels and differentiates each guide by naming

  • the class group the curriculum is written for ( Beginners, Kindergarten, Primary, or Juniors/Earliteen) .This is written across the top of your cover in large, bold letters.
  • current period of publication. In most magazines and newspapers, you may see this information written as October to December 2014. However, GraceLink editors uses the Letter years I described above. Anyway, if you’re looking at your children’s study guide, in the bottom right corner, you’ll see this written as the current quarter and year (defined by a letter of the Alphabet). Hence, the new Primary quarterly for the October to December 2014 period is reflected as Fourth Quarter, Year C.
  • Publisher’s Information logo, is that  image under which is written GraceLink curriculum. If the names of publishing staff interests you, the details can be found by flipping to the inside of the cover page, also called page two in most magazines.
  • A QR code is at the bottom left of the cover. This is a nifty communication technology has been around for some time now and is used by print publishers. If you have a smart phones with a QR reader,  load the reader and point the camera over the graphic in a scanning motion. It will give you instant access to the GraceLink website.

Page 2  – Publishing data you need to  care about

2. The inside cover  or Page 2 as it commonly called in the magazine industry, is largely reserved for publishing credits and provides the names of all the various staff  that were responsible for the editorial direction and production of the study guides — writers, editors, designers, illustrators, World Sabbath School Directors  etc. The rest is legalese describing copyright data attributing different publishing rights. The guides are published quarterly by the Pacific-Press Publishing Association for the Sabbath School/Personal Ministries Department of the General Conference of Seventh Day. An easily overlooked page, but this information can become useful if  you ever have to question anything about the doctrine presented in the study guide. There’s a mailing address as well where you can direct your letters. It’s data you need to care about and may find useful.

Stopping By for a Chat – The Introductory Pages

3. Introductory pages usually preface the lessons and are used by the editors not just to say hi, but to give some directions too. They include letters to your child and a message to parents and cover two pages. Guides for older kids may be longer conversation. These are important pages to explain any editorial changes the editors made, give important highlights and provide tips on how to interact with the study guide and your child as he studies the Word of God for the next three months.

One Stop Shop for MVs and Fun — The Back Cover

4. The back cover  in at least one study guide has become a handy memory verse resource for users, including Sabbath School teachers. The Primary Treasure guide has the full list of all the Memory verses used n the Study guide, arranged in chronological order. This one-stop shop set-up   presents an easy way for children to study all 13 verses without having to flick through pages, which is great as they get ready for the traditional Thirteen Sabbath Verse Memorization done in many churches.

You’ll recognise the logo of the world church, which brands the guide as a property of the Seventh day Adventist Church at the bottom of that page as well.

Basic Construction 

A Little Thumb Down

One of the downsides of the study guide for me is the quality of the cover material . The covers are fabricated from paper and  bound  by staples at the seam, hence the guide will not hold up to repeated handling and reading very well unless the children handle it with  extra care or parents  take steps to bind the covers with a plastic- based slip jacket or obtain a sleeve in which the guide can be carried. I would change that about the guide, but with publishing costs so high already, that might mean parents have to dig deeper in their pockets, so as is said in Jamaica, “mek i’ tan” (English- let it remain as is). Parents, get that protective jacket at your near nearest bookstore. Read other ways to care your child’s study guide in last week’s  Ministry News etc post. Find it in the Header menu above.

Where size and shape of the books are concerned,  I think the guides follow publication size standards for toddlers and small children, in that they are small  enough for little hands to carry. The PowerPoint guide is compact as well.

Too small

I would recommend, however,  that the Editors change the print and font size in the Powerpoint study guide as the page looks way too crowded. I will be surveying a  few Juniors in an upcoming post to get their perspective  on the guide, so I will let them have the final say on that.

Since we\re on the matter of study guides, here are  2  quick tips for dealing with last quarter’s study guides.

QUICK QUARTERLY  RECYCLING TIP: Have a lot of old quarterlies lying around your house? Don’t throw them away just yet. Recycle.

1. Copy the story pages and file them away for use in future children ministry Bible class, Vacation Bible School,  or to give away as tracts in literature distribution activities your ministry has planned.

2. Too tattered to recycle?  Wrong. Cut out all the illustrations on the cover and inside pages and either turn them over to the Sabbath School class teacher or use them to make Bible craft activities with your child during a Family worship activity. Teachers can use these clippings for making charts, mobiles and various other teaching aids or use as decoration for your child’s Sabbath School classroom. It can come in handy when you need to design an eye catching VBS Display Poster,  as I discovered this past summer.

Is knowing my Child’s Quarterly from Cover to Cover Really that Important?

Over the next few series of posts, I want to evaluate the quality of the children study guides we use, from cover to cover. You will also get some reviews from the children who use them. Are our study guides appealing to our children? Are our children reading and enjoying them? Do teachers feel competent presenting the weekly lessons, and what areas could be improved to make this vital Bible study curriculum meaningful and adaptable for our culture?

I will also present teaching tips and resources from the GraceLink creators, and discuss ways to adapt them for your local church. The first guide under the spotlight will be the Beginners Study guide for children birth to two years old.

Look out for  Part 2 of  your Guide Primer and Familiarisation Tour on Thursday where I’ll look at the Story/Lesson pages of the quarterly. I’ll share a lesson plan and links to resources that can help parents and teachers make the lessons come alive.

Children’s Week of Prayer and Children’s Day runs from October 11-18th. Parents, ask your children ministry leader about that event, and give as much support as possible.

Are you a new parent? What challenges are you facing with the Children Lesson Study Guide?  Pose any questions you’d like to have answered in the comment box below.

And before you go, something to celebrate about . . .

Jamaica and Belize are featured in this quarter’s issue of Children’s Mission quarterly, as World Missions turns the spotlight on the Inter-American Division.

According to the Advent Missions website, http://www.adventistmission.org, one of the projects this quarter’s 13th Sabbath offering will go towards is a children’s project. The offering will

  • establish a maternal health care center and dental clinic at the Good Samaritan Inn, Jamaica, and
  • help provide a dental chair reserved for children in the new dental clinic at the Good Samaritan Inn.

And I say, it’s about time. Thank You Lord.

If you are a parent or teacher and would like to weigh in the conversation, use the Comment box to share one thing you were enlightened about or a fact that I need to re-check with regard to  the GraceLink curriculum guides.

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About TaylorWrites Creative

I am a freelance journalist/blogger/copywriter based in Portmore, St Catherine. I blog about writing, education, small business, children ministry, lifestyle, current affairs personal technology and island life. I offer the following Writing Services - website pages - social media posts/ updates - blog posts and articles - tests and quizzes - family and life memoirs - corporate profiles - magazine and newsletter copy - email marketing copy - news reports - sales reports - press releases and press kits - advertising and sales promotions copy Editing and Proofreading I have an eagle eye for errors. I can edit or proofread your books, essays, technical/ business documents, academic documents- teacher and student materials, correspondence, resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Call or Email me today to discuss how I may help you with your writing or editing projects. Tel: 797-5997 Email: polishedproofreaderjm@gmail.com Find me on Facebook @ Polished Proofreading

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