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Creating a Sunday School where every child belongs: first steps

  • Foster a sense of belonging by having all children of the same age learn, work, worship, and play together as much as possible.
  • Assign someone to coordinate inclusion efforts.
  • Collect books and resources.

  • cover of the book, Every Child Can Bloom
  • Arrange teacher and volunteer training on curriculum adaptation, sensory overload and calming strategies, behavior support, safe sanctuary procedures, and managing emergency and medical needs such as seizures.
  • Plan a curriculum which allows for a variety of multi-sensory ways to address the material and help each child grow in faith.
  • Adapt the lessons and stay flexible so each child can benefit.

  • classroom with yellow wall, clock and colorful dots on wall
  • Avoid over-stimulation in the classroom. Keep bulletin boards and walls interesting—not overwhelming. Switch off fluorescent lights. Use rugs, dividers, and curtains to absorb noise.
  • Set up a quiet corner in each classroom, as well as a quiet room away from the classroom. Include floor pillows or bean bag chairs, fluffy rugs, soft objects to manipulate, books, soft music, headphones and soft lighting.

  • classroom with children on pillows, balls, and low tables
  • Provide “fidgets” and exercise ball-style chairs for children who need to move in order to listen and learn.
  • Make sure that classrooms, restrooms, parking, and playgrounds are accessible to children and parents who may use mobility devices.

  • wheelchair accessible water fountain
  • Have a plan for families who call or show up with a child who may need support.
  • Ask the family for information on each child's gifts, strengths, interests, and ways to help the child participate successfully.
  • Know students' allergies and have peanut-free and other allergy safety procedures in place.

  • Peanut and tree nut free zone, please wash your hands if have handled peanuts or tree nuts today
  • Recruit volunteer mentors (sometimes called buddies) to provide support, if needed. The parents should not have to fill this role!
  • Ask parents about additional support that would be helpful.
  • Model and teach typical children how to include children who may appear different than they are, without drawing attention to any child's disability.

  • two boys stand together as friends
  • Communicate frequently with parents, sharing successes and working together if problem-solving is needed.
  • Have the teachers and mentors debrief regularly on what works best and how to improve the experiences for all.
  • Celebrate the difference you are making, and thank God for the opportunity to become an inclusive community!


This article is available for download as Microsoft Word Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF

Lynn Swedberg, May 2017