Discipleship Scope and Sequence
for Early Childhood

Denise, USA, asked the following question about the discipleship scope and sequence and what it looks like in the early childhood years.

I would love to know more about what your scope and sequence looks like during the school day for Kindergarten and 2nd grade. We are studying character traits using Character First and The Power of True Success. The rest of our studies seem typical academics although the Bible is a strong part of our curriculum which I love. I'm not sure what questions to ask...any insights or direction you can give regarding how your scope and sequence looks like would be great. Thanks! I've enjoyed getting to know you and your family through your blogs! Feels like I know you and I'm thankful that the Lord has brought me to your websites! Your mentorship is becoming more and more valuable as the days go on.

Answer:(Though I emailed Denise privately, I believe the answer may help other mums as they plan their days.)

Discipleship is not just about their walk with God, though that is top of the list, but discipleship is about developing every aspect of our children’s lives to bring glory to God.

Though you ask specifically about the discipleship scope and sequence I think a good place to start is the Developmental chart of an Independent Learner – you will see that at the beginning the focus is Relationships and Character. This means that the first priority in a child’s life is to develop the skills and practices that will enhance relationships and build character. If you are an intentional parent from the start then this will be your focus, if you are ‘starting late’ then regardless of age, this is your primary focus. (This is why there are no ages on this chart.)

Character is not only the inner qualities that will help us make right choices in the things that we do but it also is the moral qualities that enables us to have healthy relationships. So with this as our primary goal we do things with our day.

  • We spend time learning more about God
  • We spend time learning how to share, be kind, obey, and have self control
  • We spend time learning to do chores and looking after our ‘things’
  • We spend time learning to focus
  • We spend time with others, and by ourselves

When I had young children our day looked like this:

    5.00am start for me – the children often woke early but had to be quiet while I had my personal devotions. They would generally read themselves.

    Wake up time for them was 6.00am if they weren’t already awake. We would then have breakfast, family devotions, chores. The kids would have some outside play while I finished my housework (laundry and dinner prep generally)

    We would then have focus time (aka school time). We only spent 2-2.5 hours or so on instructional time. Bible study, phonics/reading/writing, math, general knowledge. Much of this was interactive in some way – talking or making, with some writing.

    We often tried to finish in time to watch Playschool (ABC) but as they got older this dropped off. The rest of the morning was spent playing, or making stuff (like they saw happening on Playschool).

    Lunch / ChoresRest time (1 hour)

    The afternoons were free time where they were expected to play or we would go out. 5.00pm was time to stop and get ready for family evening with chores (pick up toys) and baths. Dinner, family reading time, and bed!

    You may want to read more about developing a discipleship routine.

So where does the scope and sequence come into this? A few main thoughts:

  1. Relationships always come first (regardless of age of the children) – this means that whenever a glitch hits us, we consider the relational needs first. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed will put us ‘behind’ our ‘routine’ if we are task orientated. Taking the time to help a child find a happy heart means that our day is going to look different – we won’t get all that we planned done. This is okay – relationships first (this includes making time to teach the relationship skills necessary).
  2. Consider the season of their life – and here I am referring to the development chart. At this young age, we are focusing on Relationships and Character. This means that whatever we are doing we focus on relationships and character. We may do numbers, we may do science experiments, we may do reading lessons – but the base line is, relationship and character skills come first. It doesn’t mean that we teach character in our math lesson, but it means the need for character instruction comes first over the need for a numbers lesson should the conflict arise. It means we may skip some lessons for a day, for a week, for a season – if a character issue needs our time, we take the time. We can only do so much in our day – something has to give – this chart helps us decide our priorities for the season.
  3. Then I look at the discipleship scope and sequence and fill my days –
    • I make sure we have time in our day to spend with God, and each other (and through the week, other people as well), (Relationship skills)
    • We work on our responsibilities (we don’t skimp on these because we’ve lessons to do, these are a high priority)
    • We take time to work on those individual needs (personal development) – manners, grooming, physical health and fitness, occupying yourself
    • We have time to play – it is through playtime that we start to see talents and bents starting to appear. Once we see something significant in our young child’s life we make every opportunity for that aspect to be explored (this may last only for a short time, or it may be life-long.)
    • At some stage we introduce time where they need to sit still and focus on activities designed to help them learn. Self control, Obedience and Attentiveness (focusing skills) are the beginning character traits necessary for learning.

This is the scope and sequence at work. In a sense it is a priority listing – relationships first, academic studies last but reality is that generally speaking we can fit it all into our day if we keep each area in balance. Learning is not linear – we don’t learn one thing at a time.

  • Though we maybe focusing on relationship with God – as we read our Bible, our children are starting to understand the importance of the written word, that letters together make words, that there are patterns etc and this is the beginning of reading skills.
  • We maybe focusing on family relationships and spend time everyday playing board games but in the meantime they are learning the self control necessary to be a good winner or loser, they are learning to follow instructions, to count and so forth. There are many ‘academic’ skills learnt by playing games – but your focus and purpose has been on the family relationships.
The reason the scope and sequence works, as a priority list is because of the overlapping nature of learning.

The other major affect that this has had on our home is in my assessment of a successful day. When I look at my lesson plans as my main focus for the day, because family life and needs interrupt me, and we don’t achieve ½ the lessons I’d planned, I am left feeling unsuccessful. But… when my day’s priorities start with relationships, then responsibilities, then personal development, then individual gifts and talents, and then academics should my day never get to the academics I can see that we have still worked on important, significant and real needs in my children’s lives. This takes the pressure off me to perform to the academic level, and enables me to disciple my child in every area of their life.

Live life with your kids!

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