Sunday, July 27, 2008

Incorporating religious education into the crazy life.

Continuing on with the theme of this being the Lord's day! We'll stick with this topic for Sundays and I'll do my best to come up with some good ideas to share.

With young kids, it's been my experience that the shorter the lesson the better! For kids ages zero to lets say 5 or 6 years old sitting still and have a structured lesson on something is sort of a joke. Some things that help are your involvement. Mom's involvement sparks a desire to share in the "fun", so to say.

But when it comes to the daily life this isn't always possible, for obvious reasons. There are things that need to be done! Dinner made, laundry done, bills paid, and so on. These are opportunities for the kids to learn a bit of independence from mom, or a lesson in how to do exactly what they are told! Both can be frustrating. My kids, for example, want my attention all the time! Or want to be involved in all I do. This is great in that it is how they learn new skills and so on. But there are things that we can do, that only take a minute, if we really want to get something done without there being a fight. (Or a minute to listen to the homily at Mass!)

Here are a couple of things that I've started to do to incorporate religious education into daily life for my kids. (And they work for me as well, to renew my knowledge and love of the Faith.) :

~For Mass find some coloring books, or printable pictures online, that have to do with the readings that are read for this particular day, or whatever lesson you think your child might benefit from. I went online a little while back and ordered The Childhood of Jesus from Holy Heroes. Not only do they have coloring books based on the faith, but they have audio CD's on various subjects which brings me to the next idea....

~For riding in the car, listening to audio CD's can be educational and fun. Not only can they learn things, but it encourages them to use their imagination. With the endless amount of video games and tv available now, using your imagination can almost seem outdated, but it is an important skill for young children to learn. Holy Heroes has Glory Stories available about saints and other topics. Recently I purchased from my local religious store Hide 'Em in Your Heart cd's by Steve Green. It has really cute songs that teach sayings from the bible. (It's not annoying tunes, as well! I actually find myself singing along...)

~Put on your Sunday best. There are no rules (that I am aware of) that state what we are supposed to wear to Mass on Sunday. There are some suggestions from some to cover your shoulders and back, no skirts above the knees, etc. But your Sunday best could be your nicest pair of jeans and nicest blouse. It could be a simple dress and slip on shoes. If your Sunday best doesn't seem so special to others it doesn't matter. God will see that you have made an effort and will appreciate it for what it is. Teach the children this as well. Those shoes you save for special occasions? Let them wear them on Sunday! We are after all going to visit the most important person of all.

~Praise the Lord. Something good happens...praise the Lord! It can be as easy as saying at dinner prayers, "So-and-So learned to ride without training wheels today. Thank you Lord for giving him/her the courage to move forward and try something new!"

~ Turn on EWTN while you fold laundry or do the dishes. They have a lot of very good talk shows that you don't need to "watch" in able to learn. The kids may not pay a whole lot of attention, but they pick up even small things...and may come back later with questions for you.
Encourage them to ask questions if they don't understand, or have doubts. This is a good thing as we are called to constantly educate ourself in the faith, and an early desire to learn is a great way for our kids to grow strong grounded faith. Ask questions--do you know why we go to church? do you know why we pray this prayer? do you know why the priest does this during Mass? Open up a dialog! :)

I hope everyone has a good week!

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