Saturday, 28 November 2015

DIY Sunday School

"Can I come?" she asks; her sweet hopeful voice tries to sound grown-up every Sunday morning for mass.  We never used to bring her to Church with us because she was a sensitive toddler.  But once she hit preschool, she wanted to go with us everywhere. 

 A child actually wanting to go to a child-unfriendly place was strange to me.  If even an adult can just go through the motions, what more a child with very little understanding of our Faith?

This is how we started doing DIY Sunday School.  
And since I'm not one of those enviable homeschooling moms with prepared crafts and lesson plans, I was relieved that the simplest things work with just a little extra thought.

Our catechism at home had a rocky start.  She was downright scared of Jesus and the Bible.  
Come to think of it - the story of our Faith is beautifully tragic as it is full of mystery.  Pretty heavy stuff for a two year old to swallow.  Especially my little Dove.

I stopped forcing the full significance of Jesus down her throat after a while.  We stuck to Christmas and a very breezy explanation of Easter.  Strangely despite her love for reading, all the toddler-friendly cartoony-books had little appeal.
Perhaps because sad things were happening to fluffy cartoon drawings.

It was a year later when these books changed her mind : my childhood bible books that my mom had kept!  Did you have these?

Stark difference - realistic illustrations!  These humanized who Jesus was.
She was enraptured with the stories and somehow she could relate to them better than the cartoons.  Some time later I came upon something Maria Montessori wrote and the explanation dawned: because children 0-5 years learn about the world through real experiences and exploration, it is best to give them real illustrations and hands-on learning too.  Makes simple sense!

One morning I was so happy to find she had picked up one of her old cartoon bible books and was reading by herself.
She is four years old here.  I followed her lead and we kept picking up this book for bedtime till we finished.

To be honest, we don't do much for catechism at home other than model the simple things and allow her to absorb our Faith into our daily lives.   We pray the three Catholic prayers at night, sometimes pick up some related bedtime reading, tell her the real reason for Christmas and Easter, and go to Church most Sundays.

It was when she asked why we had to leave her every Sunday that she began to be curious.  
"It's mine and daddy's date with Jesus, sweetie"
"Can I come?"

 I worried at first.  I have memories of being carted to mass, swinging my legs and balancing on the kneel pads - bored as heck at this grownup gathering.   So just before we left I grabbed some bible books to take along to keep her occupied.  

It worked.

She was quietly getting some education in our Faith, happily content to be doing the same thing as the adults in church.
It was a good day when the Gospel matched one of the stories selection in her books. 
If you noticed the very first picture at the top of this post, it shows her following along the rites of the mass itself through a mass book for children:

(Shared this on my instagram last Christmas while on vacation in Singapore)

It explains what each part is for and what kids can expect so they can follow along.

If you'd like to get your own copy click on the link on the sidebar, we have some extra copies on-hand!

More easy resources: we also found this beautiful book about Easter in Fully Booked:

It not only talks about the events of Easter, it ties it back to a story of LOVE from birth to resurrection.
This time we both cried while reading it!  In a good way, in thanks and praise.   

When Pope Francis visited last year, it was another milestone for our growing Faith as a family.

Her drawing on our fridge door.  "Always losing" refers to his little cap which the wind would blow away

Watching a documentary on Pope Francis, as we were checked in a hotel to wait for his convoy

Teaching our Faith is really important to me, especially as her Montessori school doesn't emphasize this.  I follow Tina, a homeschooler of Truly Rich Mom for tips and tricks I can do.  It's going to to be something that I'll continue to worry about and try to supplement strongly.  

I've made peace with the fact that she won't get her intellectual foundation on Christianity from school.   That's fine.  

I think maybe that's all I actually got from being schooled in a traditional catholic way.  Teachers taught the best they could, but focused on facts and traditions rather than reflecting on values and love.  I only started understanding the Love in our Faith when I was in my 20s, my father passed away and I began searching for deeper meaning behind the traditions I grew up with (so I highly recommend the book "The Faith Explained"!).

This year a fellow-mom from Ladybug Girl's school approached me telling me how my daughter kept answering the priest's questions during First Friday Mass at her school:

"Why do we want to go Heaven?"
Her reply : "Because it's where the love of Jesus is"

I wanted to laugh, cry, and hug this stranger-mom for sharing this precious story with me.  

You see, after I quit trying to be her religion teacher, I just wanted the first thing she learned to be my greatest realization as I grew in my own faith:

That her mama is here on earth to get to Heaven.  
That I'm trying to follow Jesus' teaching as the way to Heaven. 

And then I always tell her "I can't wait to get a bi-i-i-ig bear hug from Jesus when I get there!"

After all, what are we parents here for if not to prepare our children for Heaven too?  

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