In the midst of this COVID-19 threat, many parents find themselves in the position of doing a certain amount of homeschooling with their children, including teaching religion lessons that would normally be taught in Catholic schools or parish religious education programs. Teaching religion lessons is different from teaching other subject areas, because in faith formation, we do not teach a subject, we facilitate an encounter with Jesus Christ! With that in mind, here are 10 tips for teaching religion lessons to your children at home.
- Make this a priority. While your children have many lessons they need to keep up on at home during this crisis, do your best to make faith formation a priority. You can do this by setting aside a separate time from other lessons so that your children know that learning about Jesus is a priority.
- Look over the lesson. Before sitting down with your children to delve into their religion lessons, take a few moments to look over their assigned chapter(s) and become familiar with the concepts being taught. Reflect on what these concepts mean to you, how they affect your day-to-day living, and what stories or insights from your own life you can share to enhance the learning.
- Set aside a space. To reinforce that faith formation is unlike the subject areas children are studying, designate a separate space for working on religion lessons. Add a sense of the sacred by placing a Bible, a crucifix, a candle, or some other sacred object in this space.
- Begin with prayer. Begin this time together by lighting a candle and asking your child who and what they would like to pray for as well as what they are thankful for. Then take a moment to pray together, either spontaneously or using a traditional prayer, and beginning and ending with the Sign of the Cross. Your religion textbook most likely has traditional prayers in it, or you can find traditional Catholic prayers here at the Loyola Press website.
- Give your child an overview of the lesson. Take a few moments to tell your children what their lesson will focus on, and ask them what, if anything, they may already know about the topic. Invite them to share what they recall from previous lessons.
- Walk with them through the lesson. Help your child navigate through the lesson, alternating between having him/her read aloud and working independently before asking him/her to summarize what he/she read and learned. Assist your child with any activity pages in the lesson.
- Emphasize main points. Be sure that your child can come away with the ability to articulate the main point or “big idea” of the lesson and recall key vocabulary words.
- Add your own stories and insights. A significant part of forming your children in faith is telling them your own insights, stories, and experiences related to the topic. For example, if the chapter is about prayer, be sure to talk to your children about how you personally pray.
- Review the main points, and make an action plan. Review what your child learns by using the review resources your textbook publisher’s website provides. As you complete the lesson, talk about what your child and your family can do in the days ahead to put your faith into action.
- End in prayer. Once again, take time to pray. Ask your child what he/she needs God to help him/her with in the days ahead. Pause for a moment in silence, and then pray either spontaneously or with a traditional prayer. End with the Sign of the Cross. Blow out the candle, and trace the Sign of the Cross with your thumb on your child’s forehead as a blessing.
May this challenging time we are experiencing be a moment of grace for you and your children to grow closer to one another and to our Lord Jesus Christ!
P.S. Catechetical leaders, be sure to look at the Loyola Press Family Catechesis program!