The Spiral Curriculum

“Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the Lord who makes you holy.”
‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭20:8‬

Working with littles has taught me so much.

For one: learning is never over.

Even when you think you’ve nailed it.

Take classroom rules, for example.

We spend the greater part of September and October slowly, slowly building routines and establishing the protocols. Where does finished working go? How do you get the teacher’s attention? How do you get what you need? Building stamina. Building focus.

Then you start building all sorts of academic skills on top of the basics and you go along quite charmingly for a few months.

And then Christmas happens.

And you start over in January, reviewing the rules and procedures, rebuilding stamina, refreshing everyone’s little mind about how things are done in your domain. The rules come back with practice. The learning happens faster than it did in the fall.

On you go, merry and wise.

And then February break happens.

You think, this time, they’ll have it. This time, we don’t need to take that precious learning time to reinforce the rules and regain stamina; we got this.

And you find one day that no, we don’t ‘got this’. No, we aren’t remembering how to be a good friend, or where to put finished work projects. We have no idea how to get what we need without yelling or pushing.

And Teacher feels – well, rather deflated. Her efficiency and competence are on the line, after all. She feels that she hasn’t been listened to, and wonders why the days aren’t running smoothly anymore.

If she were wise, she would take those precious instructional minutes and run them through the spiral.

Spiral curriculum, that is.

The experts realize that littles learn best not in a linear way, but in a spiral.

It works like this.

They are exposed to animal life – ‘ What’s a baby cow called?’ ‘Fish hatch from eggs’. That sort of thing.

A few years later, up pops life cycles again – yet this time, they need to understand words like metamorphosis and herbivore/carnivore.

A few years later?

There they are again, studying life cycles – but now they need to understand how the creature’s environment impacts its food supply and ability to sustain a population, and how human interference can alter whole species.

Same topic – deeper and broader learning, each cycle through.

It only stands to reason that sound educational principles in school would apply in our spiritual formation too, right?

Sometimes we get off the path and need to retrace our steps to gain our bearings. We may not have learned that lesson well enough to create what we call ‘automaticity’ – that sweet spot where the learning becomes so much a part of you that you can perform that action or make that choice without even thinking.


We need to go a little deeper.

Call it God’s ‘spiral curriculum’.

See, God isn’t interested in you being able to spout off a bunch of facts, write an exam, and forget everything you crammed into that brain of yours.

He wants that important learning to be driven deep enough to create automaticity.

Are you feeling like an utter failure to be relearning old material?


This time, the learning will go at a faster pace because you have the prerequisite skills laid down. This time, the learning will go deeper and wider because your mind and heart are freer to learn the new stuff because you understand the principles at work in the old stuff.

It is in this place of repeated practice you will find growth and change.

And where God can make you holy…

Commit yourself to God’s spiral curriculum with me??

Father, You know how and why we need to learn each lesson. We declare today that we trust You and we trust the process of repeated practice that will drive our learning deep enough to become automatic. Amen.


Published by melodylowes

I am actually a bit of a mess. But in the mess, I’m finding security in knowing I am chosen, I am forgiven, and I matter. After uncovering a history of abuse in my past, I have done a lot of healing - and writing is one way I can invite you deeper into your own healing journey! I write devotionals about the complicated thing called life at, and my poetry is stashed at Pull up a chair and a coffee or tea and let's grow together!

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