Most Catholic parents would agree on the importance of praying with our sons and daughters. The Church teaches us that we are the primary faith educators of our children, and what better way to teach them about God than by talking to God? That being said, praying with young kids can be difficult at times. It’s hard to get toddlers and small children to sit still for thirty seconds let alone engage in a focused dialogue with an invisible God, and it can be tempting to put off lessons about prayer until our kids are a little bit older.
During my daughter’s early weeks of life, I started to read her poetry as I fed her. I’d like to say it was because I knew she found the sound of my voice soothing, or because I hoped to instill in her a love of literature from an early age or because I believe that vocabulary formation begins in these first, tender weeks. These things may all be true, but that’s not why I fill her sweet little ears with metered verse. No, I read her poetry to pass the time.
One of the defining marks of a Catholic school is the communal celebration of the Sacraments. Growing up as a student in a Catholic school, I remember having all-school Masses once each quarter. When I began teaching at St. Paul Catholic School in St. Petersburg, Florida, I was delighted to learn that our school gathered every week to celebrate Mass. As the middle school religion teacher, I had the opportunity to coordinate these weekly all-school Masses and facilitate student involvement. Here are a few of the best practices I learned along the way: