Sometimes late on Saturday nights, I have moments of doubt. I wonder if all the time, effort, paper, planning, supply gathering, and teenager bribing (my teenagers AND Jean’s AND Danielle’s 🙂 ) that it takes to make my Sunday School class a success is worth it.
But then by 10:30 on Sunday morning, my faith has been completely renewed and I start looking forward to the next lesson already.
Each year, it becomes more obvious that due to the diverse backgrounds and needs of my students that taking a purely textbook approach to catechesis just isn’t effective. Long ago, I committed to including at least one hands-on component to each class. This year, we’ve reduced our reliance on our textbook to less than one quarter of our time… I’ve learned that when the kids need a book, it works better for them to make their own.
Have you ever noticed that the people in church who most NEED to be able to see what’s going on – the children – can’t ever actually SEE what’s going on? Every year that I’ve had one of my own babies, I’ve asked Father to allow my students to come up and sit in front of the first pew during our baby’s baptism so that they can actually participate. Since I’m obviously can’t do that anymore, we recruited one of George’s baby dolls as a substitute.
Each child got to take turns being a parent or a godparent. I loved overhearing their answers to the questions that “Father Sam” asked them. One small group decided all on their own that the reason we want to wash the original sin from our souls is so that there would be more room for more grace. That’s all it took to show me that my Saturdays of preparation might actually be worth it.
Then each student got to baptize the baby themselves. Saying the words… pouring the water… touching the oil… I am certain that these audible and visible signs of our faith are now firmly planted in my students’ minds and hearts.
We’re never going to be allowed to abandon our textbook entirely, but I think I’m OK with that. I can’t see our parish adopting Catechesis of the Good Shepherd … even if I were in a position to volunteer to manage the whole thing (and don’t you dare think of mentioning to Dixon that such an idea even occured to me!!!) But there’s no reason I can’t incorporate as much hands-on, homeschooling mama, teaching to the heart of the child learning as I want to into each and every lesson.
And if I ever grow weary of the time and planning and paper and supply gathering and teenager bribing, I just need to think about the joy in our students’ bright eyes as they lit the candle, poured the water, held the baby doll… I think perhaps it brought a little more grace into everybody’s soul this week.