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What is a Multi-Age Sunday School Class?

A Multi-Age Sunday school class combines most or all of the Sunday School ages and places them in one classroom (e.g. Preschool through 6th grade). It is true that the really young students sometimes struggle with tracking with what's happening in class, but at the same time, the older students get quite adept at helping the younger students out.

Some reasons why a church might choose to use a Multi-age classroom approach:

  • During holiday weekends or the summer when attendance is lower, combining multiple grades into one classroom can create a "critical mass" that produces momentum and energy usually lost when a lower number of students remain separated in their various classrooms.

  • A Multi-age Sunday School class reduces the number of needed volunteer-teachers.

  • As previously mentioned, Multi-age Sunday School classes allow older students to function in a mentor capacity with the younger students. This often helps the older students better focus on the lesson and activities. It also reinforces the concept of community: The Body of Christ isn't about spending time with people who are only the same age as us.

  • Certain stories do not lend themselves very well to the Workshop Rotation Model approach. Stories of sequence or stories that share similar themes (e.g. the Patriarchs, the Israelites roaming about the wilderness after exodus of Egypt, King David and Solomon, and a number of Jesus' parables) do not have, in and of themselves, enough "meat on the bone" to gnaw during the course of 3 or 4 weeks.  But at the same time, these are significant characters and stories that should not be overlooked. A multi-age Sunday School approach when used in tandem with the Workshop Rotation Model produces a greater curriculum coverage of Bible stories.

Possible Usages of a Multi-Age Sunday School Approach

A Multi-age Sunday School approach can be used year-round or it can be used in tandem with another approach, like the Workshop Rotation Model.

If used as a stand-alone model, various modifications can be made to it:

  • If a program has too many students for one classroom, try splitting the class in half (not necessarily by age, either), and use the same lesson each week for both classrooms.

  • Workshop Rotation Model lessons can be used with this model.  You can either do sessions (3 or 4 classes per story) or just choose one activity and lesson for a story.  However, if you choose to do sessions, please note that the versatility of the teacher is important and that the WRM classrooms tend to require greater preparation.

  • Finally, you might consider having an ALL-ages Sunday School Class, where adults, teenagers and children are students.  This would require Sunday School to be held at a separate time from worship (which is best, anyways, though not always possible), and would also take some getting used to (kids tend to answer questions pretty quickly without fear of being wrong, while at the same time, adults can be nervous about answering seemingly simple questions incorrectly.   This leads to an imbalance in the answering and discussion part, but after a class gets used to each other, this imbalance tends to fade.

If used in tandem with Workshop Rotation Model

Pinpoint when you would use a multi-age approach.

  • If using during low-attendance Sundays during the school year when you usually have WRM classes, try to match up stories for the one week that have similar themes to the stories that the WRM curriculum is focused on during that time.  

  • If using a multi-age approach during the summer, choose stories that are sequential to help the students get at least some feel for the order of events.  For example, Daniel is a good book (the first 6 chapters, at least) to do a summer 1-Room approach. So are the "before time" stories found mostly in Genesis: Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Noah, Tower of Babel, etc., but you could also throw Job in there too.  These stories are helpful in understanding the Israelites and God and the relationship between the two, but at the same time, are not well-suited to be taught in a Workshop rotation setting.