Thanks to Tirzah I. for this post!
If you use the Christadelphian Sunday School Association’s Lesson Books, you may have noticed information about the Correspondence Sunday School in the back of the books.
This is a small, but vibrant Sunday School which is run primarily for families in isolated Australian rural areas. They may be the only family at their small ecclesia, or the only Christadelphians for several hours drive. Even if they have other families, they may all live an hour or more from where they hold meetings, in completely different directions. This can make running an ecclesial Sunday School hard.
The Sunday School also caters for students who belong to a metropolitan Sunday School, but for some reason, may be the only child for their age group with a big age gap on either side. Or it might be a small ecclesia who don’t have the resources and manpower to run an ecclesial Sunday School.
Whatever the reason, we welcome any child and family to join our Sunday School!
The Sunday School caters for the usual Sunday School ages, teaching from the Kindy notes (3 year olds) through to Senior notes (16+ years old). Children registered in our Sunday School are divided into the same year or division groups which are used in most Australian Sunday Schools. Classes have around two to five students and depending on the number of teachers and students in the age group, each teacher might be responsible for one or more groups.
At the beginning of the Sunday School year (which starts in September in Australia), each child receives a Lesson Book, a Project and the Activity Sheets for their age group. Throughout the year their assigned teacher will send them homework each month. They are sent homework for three lessons per month with the month of June having four lessons. Homework is generally several questions set from each lesson for the students to answer, but this can be changed to suit the individual child.
The teachers all post out their letter to the child, prepared homework and extra goodies on the first Wednesday of the month, beginning in October. This helps all the children in a family to receive their Sunday School package on the same day (depending on Australia Post!) Extra goodies might comprise of quotes relevant to the lesson, stickers, craft, Bible inserts or anything else that relates to those month’s lessons and which is also flat enough to send through the post.
Families complete the lessons as it suits their schedule. Some families do a lesson each week, other families try and travel to other ecclesias or have visitors some weekends and complete their lessons slower. Every couple of months, they post the completed homework sheets back to the Correspondence Sunday School in Adelaide, South Australia. Our superintendent collects the mail and sends each child’s work to the correct teacher.
The teachers then mark the homework with lots of stickers and praise and send it back with a little gift and letter as a reward to the student for completing and sending in homework.
We try and follow the same Sunday School year other Australian Sunday Schools are following, so we encourage our students to submit a Project to the CSSA by the due date in July. The teachers highlight which lessons have a page in the Project in their letters to their class each month and offer ideas and help for completing the page.
July and August are spent as revision months. Last year we introduced a game (this one here) and sent a game set to each family with the relevant question book for each child. For future years we will send out new question books for the correct stage and age groups in each family. Our families can now do revision as a family activity together rather than being sent a different activity for each child in the family!
In September we send out the CSSA Examination to all the families who wish their children to sit the exam and when returned, the exam papers are marked by their teachers or the superintendent.
This completes the Sunday School year and each child is sent a certificate later that month indicating they have completed a year of Sunday School. Most prize-givings in Australia are at the end of the year (November/December). Our students are sent books for their year’s work, and an acknowledgement for submitting a Project or sitting the exam if they have done so.
Going forward we are investigating options such as Kahoot! (an educational quiz platform) and Google Classroom (a paperless homework option) as other options for our Sunday School in addition to the current style.
If you would like to get involved in our Sunday School as a teacher, send an email to superintendent using the email address on the CSSA website or in the lesson books. If you are currently a teacher in a big Sunday school, you might like to “buddy” up with the equivalent class in the Correspondence Sunday School and your class could write short letters several times a year to the children scattered around Australia (and the world!) as part of your weekly lesson time.
Maybe you might like to join our Sunday School? Send an email using the above-mentioned email address and let us know your contact details, and names and ages of your child/children. Even if you are not living in Australia, we still could accommodate you by sending homework by email. Or you could consider starting your own national Correspondence Sunday School!
You can read more information here about the Australian Christadelphian Correspondence Sunday School.
Bro. Jim Harper’s book The Joy of Sunday School has a section specifically on teaching children in isolation Sunday School.