Assigning Sunday School Space to Preschoolers and Others

Thursday 17th January, 2008

I walked through educational space in a church yesterday. The pastor and Sunday School director had invited me to help them make some decisions about placement of age groups in their facilities. They are nearing completion of a new addition that includes multi-use sanctuary (can also serve as a full gymnasium and fellowship space) along with several new classrooms, a new kitchen, and new bathrooms.

The group was re-evaluating some decisions, especially related to placement of preschool classrooms. Even though they had plans in the second phase of construction to add preschool classrooms to the second floor of the new addition, some of the preschool leaders had come to believe that renovating the older space could be preferable.

While this discussion is ideal to take place prior to drawing any plans or beginning construction, their discussion and consideration of options was very healthy. In the process, I shared several issues that they needed to weigh as they made their decisions:

  • 35 square foot per preschooler is needed; 25 square foot per child; 12-15 square foot per youth or adult;
  • when any space in the church is filled to 80% of capacity, growth will tend to slow or stop and affect overall church growth similarly;
  • in many cases when constructing additional educational space, it is preferable to build preschool space first, children's space second, youth space third, and adult space last because if adult space is built first, the givers may stop giving before all of the needed space is constructed;
  • it is better to try to keep age groups together (such as preschool) where possible in your facilities;
  • good signage is needed at strategic locations around the facility;
  • where possible, preschool space should be on ground level, not in a basement or on a second floor;
  • at least two workers per class for all preschool, children's, and youth classes;
  • all churches need some large group space;
  • flexible space is more costly (spaces with movable walls), but it allows much greater versatility for group needs in the future;
  • a church should plan ahead on what the impact of age groups getting older might be (for instance, this church was expecting 8 new babies in the next 8 months--they need to plan beyond just the impact on the bed babies space to the years ahead);
  • planning about classroom assignments should anticipate growth rather than be surprised by it;
  • it is important to give attention to making preschool and children's space very attractive (especially if it is not going to be in newly constructed space)--otherwise it looks old and appears that the church does not care about the younger ages;
  • plans should be made and practiced for conducting emergency exiting with preschoolers;
  • having church greeters is important;
  • and lots more issues were discussed.

What recommendations would you have for a church trying to decide where to place preschoolers? My list is limited. Have you had some bad experiences you would share in order to help others avoid some situations? Press the comments button below. Preschool years are foundational. Provide great teachers, great space, and big prayers! Be revolutionary!

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