So it totally happened. I’ve taught two classes already. Third grade. It is as wonderful and sometimes frustrating as you can imagine, but it’s happening.
Basically the guidelines I was given were this…here’s a book to help you and by the end of the year the kids should know the Apostles Creed (upcoming post about this) and the Confiteor (which most of them know because thankfully most of them attend mass weekly!).
We have learned so far, in addition to what the book teachers about “We Are The Church” about the Nativity of Mary and Our Lady of Sorrows and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. Tomorrow, it’s all about Evangelists.
Teaching Faith Formation is an interesting thing. I don’t hold it against these kids that they are largely public school educated (I have a few private schooled…no home schoolers) and therefore don’t have the benefit of additional formation. Those kids who go to the parish school or the other Catholic school in our area obviously don’t have to be a part of Faith Formation. I find that most parents are doing their best and, like me, we can all do better. I wanted to be encouraging but not condescending when I gave suggestions of allowing children access to the Bible and a chance to go to Confession. I think it worked because after our first week, three kids who said they hadn’t been to Confession since their first one last year went that week.
I was heartened to see that many of the children practiced the Act of Contrition and Glory Be between class one and class two. And I have them do an Examination of Conscience before we pray those two prayers at the end of class. It’s simplistic as far as Examination of Consciences go (reflecting over the day and week past and possible times they were mean to someone or unhelpful etc), but they are third graders, it might be the only one they do all week and it’s at their level.
I very literally answered a call when our DFF spoke at a parent meeting in August pleading for any interest. I knew I could do this. I knew it would do good things for kids and parents and myself. I just had no idea how good it would be for me. How breaking down and articulating the faith I love so much to a third graders level would help me remember just why it is I love being Catholic.
Our first lesson we talked about the Church being universal and I was able to tell the kids about my friend Jen who lives in Beijing with her husband and kids and how if I went to mass there it would be the same (albeit in a different language with a different homily) there as the mass they would go to that week at our parish.
We also got to talk about, in the second week, ways we could build God’s Kingdom through service to one another and I had a little girl suggest she help her parents by brushing her little sister’s hair and another child who suggested he could respect God’s creation by not littering.
These simple, basic things that we forget in our heady theological debates about the color of the Pope’s shoes or when we listen to the secular media argue that the Pope is a communist or a bigot depending on which issue they’re peeved about or when we engage in verbal fisticuffs about whether the TLM or NO is more reverent or acceptable. When I teach these children about the tenets of their faith, they teach me how to approach Jesus as a child. When I teach them, they present me to Jesus. It’s probably the one thing I never could have realized because Jesus had that surprise in store for me.
I answered a call, and He answered my heart’s greatest need.
Updated to add: if you would like to see my philosophy as to why it is so important to teach children the Apostles Creed, click here.