A Catechist in Need!

Calling all catechists! We have a fellow catechist in need. Ross sent me the following:

I have a particular problem in that I have recently taken over a class of 20 children of different ages. Although qualified as a teacher I have have no previous teaching as a catechist.
I only have half an hour each week to do this. The Children range from K1 (kindergarten) to year 6. Any help would be appreciated –
regards ross

Ross, this is indeed a challenge. It would be helpful if you can clarify a few details:

  1. What is the reason for the unusual age-grouping (K-6)?
  2. Is this a children’s catechumenate (preparing them to receive the sacraments of Initiation)?
  3. What are you being asked to do in 30 minutes? Teach lessons? Do a children’s liturgy of the Word? Have you been given a textbook or materials to use?
  4. Are there other groupings like this in the program?
  5. What was done previously? What direction is the DRE providing?

Perhaps with a few more details, we may be able to offer some concrete advice on how to most effectively catechize in your situation. My first reaction is that you may want to proceed as though doing a children’s Liturgy of the Word, a lectionary-based approach, where you focus on the Sunday Scripture readings and lessons that can be drawn from the readings. Not knowing some of the details of your situation, however, I’m hesitant to jump too quickly into offering solutions.

If any folks already have some advice to offer, by all means, let’s hear from you!

p.s. I have Ross’ email address if anyone wants to contact him personally. I’ve taken it off of his comment to protect him from spammers

About Joe Paprocki 2739 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

4 Comments on A Catechist in Need!

  1. Joe & Ross
    At first discription this sounds to me like a children’s liturgy of the word. in which case one wonders why children up to 6th grade are being dismissed.
    If it is not children’s Liturgy of the word or RCIC, given the diversity of the class and it’s size I would suggest that he find a few parents to share the burden. If Ross can begin with a Scripture Story and then sub divides the group he could do a few different “activity centers” with activities or discussions that were appropriate for different ages and learning styles and then wrap up with a prayer that included everyone. Ross you could use some of the older students to be helpers. The key it not to get so wrapped up in the activity that you can’t be circulating and having age appropriate mini discussions with students at their activity centers.
    Several of my catechists use “activity centers” as a way of meeting the needs of diverse learning styles within their classrooms. Students can choose from a craftier idea or a puzzel, or if a child tends to race throught one activity there is something for them to do besides cause trouble while others work at a different speed. Don’t forget to let one of the centers be a listening center or quiet area for more reflective kids.
    hope this helps a bit.

  2. I agree we need many more details. But if you have K through Grade 6 together…….I would suggest that you play to the strengths present in the group. I would gather them into the multi-age group and not segregate according to age. Respect and treat the older students as “helpers” and they will live up to the role. The intergenerational mix will learn with and from each other.

    I do this with VBS and find that the older students really do learn along with the little ones. I have many fewer behavior problems as you are getting the older children to “own” the group along with you.

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