Learning Goals for Children

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Developmentally appropriate Christian formation goals

Many churches seek to create learning goals for age levels in their Christian education classes. Not all children of a similar age are academically or socially on the same level, but having a general sense of what is possible can be a helpful benchmark in addition to whatever curriculum you are using.  

Preschool and Kindergarten 
  • To know that God loves the child deeply.
  • To talk with and respond to God.
  • To know that we’re God’s children, created by God to love.
  • To experience church as a lively, secure place where people care about and listen to them.
  • To know teachers’ and classmates’ names.
  • To explore a few Old Testament stories and many from the New Testament, especially stories of Jesus.
  • To learn key phrases from the church’s liturgy: And also with you. Thanks be to God. Amen.
  • To understand that at baptism we are washed with water and welcomed into God’s family.
  • To understand that at communion we eat bread and drink wine, happy that God loves us. 
Grades K - 3:
  • To know the names, colors and symbols of the liturgical seasons.
  • To begin to understand and relate to God the Creator, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
  • To feel comfortable with spontaneous prayer and to have experienced various kinds of prayer (intercession, thanksgiving and praise).
  • To understand that God creates and loves our world and that we in turn are responsible for caring for it.
  • To know the Bible stories that recount Christmas, Easter and Pentecost events.
  • To understand Jesus’ acts, as recounted in the Bible that lead to our celebrations of Baptism and Eucharist and recognize the actions of both sacraments as experienced in worship.
  • To understand key phrases from worship – the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed, The Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments (memorization is less important than familiarity and understanding).
  • To experience church as a welcoming community, learning that they are an important part of the people of God.
Grades 4 and 5:
  • To begin to expand a role in the church family: serving as an acolyte, singing in the youth choir, ushering, greeting members of the congregation.
  • To memorize and understand key phrases from worship services and biblical passages: the Nicene Creed, the Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, the Confession, certain prayers.
  • To master Bible skills (introduced in Grade 3); to be able to read and discuss short biblical passages.
  • To explore the plot and characters in Jesus’ parables.
  • To become familiar with stories that tell of Jesus’ care for the sick, the poor and the outcast.
  • To gain an understanding of Church seasons, colors and symbols, creating symbols with personal meaning.
  • To explore the liturgies for Eucharist and Baptism, connecting the sacraments with biblical events and our relationship to God today.
  • To explore promises that we make to God (Baptismal vows), connecting them to daily actions. 
Grades 6 - 8: 
  • To begin building a more mature self-image, more stable relationships (outside of the family) and a more coherent understanding of the world.
  • To begin involvement in ministry – sacking food at a food pantry, collecting supplies for a homeless shelter, etc.
  • To begin to identify one’s gifts.
  • To become more fully involved in the church community by volunteering to serve.
  • To be able to explain the biblical story of God’s people and the life of Jesus.
  • To begin to reflect on scripture and its meaning in our lives.
  • To understand the format of the lectionary and how it ties to the liturgical calendar.
  • To reflect on and discuss moral issues, including sexual expression, from a Christian perspective.
  • To gain a sense of responsibility for belonging to large and small communities, including the development of listening skills.
  • To pursue study leading to a choice about Confirmation.
  • To become familiar with books related to one’s faith tradition such as the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer.
  • To understand the basic governing structure and polity of your denomination.

Written by Sharon Ely Pearson-Formation Specialist, Church Publishing Inc. Reprinted with permission, 2012.