Why Some Kids Just Can’t Sit Still—And Shouldn’t

“Sit still!” What catechist, teacher, or parent hasn’t uttered those words to a squirmy child? Some children simply love movement and thrive on experiencing reality through bodily movement. For them, sitting still is akin to closing their eyes to a reality that they prefer to access through movement and experimentation. Their constant movement is not necessarily an inability to pay attention but is a desire to use their bodies to experience life. Experts refer to […]

Auditory Learners: Whoever Has Ears to Hear, Let Them Hear!

Jesus famously said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!” (Mark 4:9) The truth is, some people learn best, not by reading, seeing, or doing, but primarily by hearing. In order for auditory learners to truly receive and integrate information, they need to hear it. If we as catechists rely on lecture, that will be good for auditory learners; however, we need to remember that only 30% of learners are auditory learners, so the lecture-only […]

Visual Stimulation for Those Children Who Hear “Wah-Wah-Wah-Wah”

I’m sure you are familiar with the sound depiction of adults speaking in any of the Charlie Brown cartoons—a sound created by a trombone similar to “wah-wah-wah-wah.” For some visual learners, this is what a teacher’s voice can sound like. As a visual learner myself, I realize that often when I am listening to instructions, at some point the voice does indeed sound like the trombone-noise from a Charlie Brown cartoon! What does it mean […]

Active Learning That “Sticks”

I’ve always been a proponent of active learning—making sure that learners are actively involved in the process of accessing new information—and I’ve written about this here previously. Now, let me give you a specific example that I find very effective. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved stickers! Who doesn’t? I know that my wife and I found stickers to be one of the best ways of keeping our kids occupied on car rides. […]

Sacramental Preparation Should Rely on a Language of Mystery

When my mom was 13 years old and unbaptized, she hung around with her best friend Ramona who, like the rest of her family, was a practicing Catholic. Once, when my mom went with Ramona’s family to Sunday Mass, she observed them all go up to receive Communion and come back to their places to kneel in prayer with a look of joyful contentment on their faces. After Mass, my mom asked Ramona’s mother, “What […]

Four Ways to Meet Them Where They Are

By now we’re all settling into our routines for the year and getting to know our students. Inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who advised “meeting them where they are” as the starting point for conversation, I’m wondering, do we meet them where they are? In order to take this Ignatian approach, we need to get to know them. Beyond playing a few get-to-know-you name games, which have their place, how do we go deeper […]

What Exactly Is Apprenticeship in Faith Formation?

Years ago, it was common for a young person to learn a trade by being apprenticed by someone who was a “master” in that trade. Twenty years ago, the General Directory for Catechesis (#67) created some excitement by declaring that faith formation was to be an apprenticeship. So just what does it mean to apprentice someone into the Catholic faith? To answer that, let’s look at the essentials of an apprenticeship: The goal of an […]

Kids Need Transition

For many kids, faith formation feels like just one more thing on their busy schedules. They hurry through their school day shuffling from class to class, race to extracurricular activities, squeeze in a meal (often fast-food), and get dropped off at religious education classes, where they are usually met with a flurry of announcements and activity. And here we are, as catechists, trying to get them to suddenly come face-to-face with the issue of their […]

Eight Ways to Use Worksheets Effectively in Faith Formation

I have heard some catechists say they will never use blackline masters (BLMs) in religious education classrooms, and other catechists like to use every one their curriculum provides. These worksheets and other handouts are usually provided as part of the curriculum; a good catechist manual will advise when to integrate a BLM into the lesson. The key to using worksheets effectively in faith formation is understanding that they are resources for activities, not time-fillers, and […]

Fostering Communication with Parents

As catechists, we want to partner with parents as closely as possible on their child’s faith formation journey, but we are often frustrated with the lack of interaction we have with the parents of those we teach. Recently, I received the following question from a catechist named Susanne: “Any tried and true ways to get information to and from parents of third graders? I find paper notes left behind in class, folders never coming back […]

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