When VBS cranks up at churches this summer, three groups of learners will be especially ready to have amazing encounters with Jesus. Kids, students, and adults with developmental special needs will be excited to experience the message of this year’s Bible verse: “These words are written so we can know Jesus is God’s Son” (John 20:31, paraphrased).
The VBS 2019 Special Friends Leader Guide (005804828, $11.99) can help your church tailor the Bible Study portion of VBS to the individual learning styles and specific developmental abilities of participants. The leader guide is divided into three sections.
For starters, the Administrative Guide helps you choose among three types of approaches when planning VBS for people with special needs.
- The Inclusion option relies on one-on-one teachers to assist learners in a typically-graded class.
- The Self-Contained setting adapts VBS for individuals or small groups. The leader guide offers a list of resources leaders may use to supplement Bible study with music and worship, missions, snacks, recreation, and crafts experiences within the Special Friends classroom.
- A Combination Approach allows learners to spend a portion of their day in a self-contained setting (perhaps for Bible study), but participate with peer groups in rotations for crafts, music, missions, and recreation.
The Administrative Guide also details the options of printing visuals from the CD-ROM (included in the leader guide) or purchasing separate VBS leader packs.
Two sets of teaching plans are provided in the leader guide; both follow the scope and sequence of the 2019 mainline VBS.
- The “Teaching Plans for Kids” sessions are designed in a pick-and-choose format similar to Bible Studies For Life: Special Buddies. Accommodations may be made to allow kids to work at their own pace, even if it means multiple supervised activities are happening at the same time.
- The “Teaching Plans for Students/Adults” are designed in a linear format, with bonus activities to be used as needed to meet the needs of individuals, small groups, or the group as a whole.
The best part of a Special Friends VBS is its versatility. Any activity in any teaching plan may be adapted and used with any learner in any age group setting. Grab the leader guide, start praying for and about the unique individuals who will attend, and make plans to help kids, students, and adults learn more about Jesus, God’s Son.
Joy Fisher is Content Editor of the Bible Studies For Life: Special Buddies curriculum, designed for children in grades 1-6 who have developmental disabilities. Her 20-year-old son, Sam, has Down syndrome and is a huge fan of VBS.