"The whole trouble is that -- literally -- we do not know what is good for us; and what makes the trouble still worse is that we think we do. We have our own plans for our happiness, and too often we merely regard God as somebody who will help us to accomplish them. The true state of affairs is just the opposite. God has His plans for our happiness, and He is waiting for us to help Him to accomplish them. And let us be quite clear about it: We cannot improve on God's plans." This Tremendous Lover, M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.R.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
This weekend will be the parent meeting for Sunday School (CRE). I am very excited because we have our largest enrollment yet at our parish! At the parent meeting, I think this is a great time to establish our program's focus and expectations, not only for children, but for the families. Here are a few pointers from my meeting that you may want to incorporate into yours!
1. Welcome, Summary of our program
“Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be. Christians in my country and yours – and throughout the West, generally – have done a terrible job of transmitting our faith to our own children and to the culture at large,” Archbishop Chaput
When we present our lives before the Lord, we will be held responsible for what we did and did not teach our children. This is a huge responsibility. Society is not teaching children our Faith, we need to make sure that WE do that. I encourage you to make Sunday School and attending Liturgy regularly a priority for your family this year.
Additionally, our children don’t need the faith “dumbed down” for them…they often have a better grasp on the Ways of our Lord than we do! It is not too much to ask of our children to come to CRE and then to the Divine Liturgy. We do it for school all week long; we can do it on Sundays too! While this may be a change for your family, I just want to encourage you that you can do it!
2. Description of learning style: a Multi-grade Classroom
At our small parish, we have a wide age-range of children to teach and few volunteers to do so. This creates a situation where it becomes necessary to create a multi-grade classroom, where children of all ages are able to learn together. While this may seem like a disadvantage, I believe that this style of learning is actually very beneficial to our children. One of the primary challenges in teaching our children is that they have such varying levels of religious knowledge within the same age groups. By putting all children together, we are able to address concepts with older children they may otherwise have skipped over, while bringing our younger children to a deeper knowledge of our faith.
If you are interested in more information about multi-grade classrooms, I encourage you to check out this website.
3. Schedule for the year
Each week, I will present the lesson of the day to the entire group; then we will either break into age-based groups for activities at their own level, or participate in a large group game or activity. (In another post, I will try to describe my lesson-planning for the year)
4. Guidelines for parents and co-teachers
While these guidelines are specific to my parish, you may have similar guidelines:
-You must have your safe environment training completed and a back ground check with our diocese to co-teach.
-Parents of 3 year olds must stay to assist their children.
-Co-teachers should be present at church by 9am to receive instruction from me on the activities and responsibilities of that day. Regular attendance is very important for those who want to co-teach. The children grow very attached to their teachers and we need to cultivate that bond.
-Parents are invited to attend the children’s lesson or meet together in the conference room for adult learning and conversation.
5. Attendance Policy
Attendance is something we have struggled with in the past. We have families that don't come regularly, which makes it challenging to teach the children lessons that build one week after another. We also had families that would come to Sunday School(CRE) and then not come to Liturgy, which we definitely don't want! This year, I created this attendance system in the hopes that it will motivate the entire family to make sure that we're together every week!
Attendance weekly at both CRE and the Divine Liturgy is necessary for our children to receive the maximum benefit from the program, but more importantly, to truly come to know and love God through our Church.
Attendance will be tracked this year. Each week, there is an opportunity to earn 2 stickers. Children earn 1 sticker for coming to CRE and 1 sticker for attending Liturgy.
-Actual attendance will be rewarded with a smiley-face sticker.
-An excused absence will be when you tell me, by phone or email, the day before class that you are unable to attend. These days will be marked with a star.
-An unexcused absence will be those days where your absence was not noted ahead of time. These days, the children will receive no stars.
-If you attend CRE and then miss Liturgy on the same day, this is counted as an unexcused absence for Liturgy.
For every 6 stickers, the children will get to pick a prize from a treasure box. We also will be having a Nativity play this year, and only children who have attended well will be allowed in the play.
I hope that these guidelines for my parent meeting help you gather your thoughts for your programs as well!