Weekly Link Up: Faith Formation

I confess, sometimes in our house Faith Formation gets called “Sunday School: Catholic Version”. I grew up as a Baptist (it will be 3 years this spring since my conversion) so growing up it was always called Sunday School, and I confess that I often still slip up and call it Sunday School to my children.

In an interesting side note, I recently just met a family who moved here (Canada) from Belgium, and there, Faith Formation is taught directly in the school, instead of at church on Sunday.

So let’s dive into our talk on Faith Formation, as part of the Weekly Link up from Sweeping up Joy.

1. Do your children attend your parish’s religious education program?

Yes. Our parish runs their Faith Formation program each Sunday, after 10:00 Mass, from the end of September through the end of April. They mostly use materials from RCL Benziger.

2. Do you or have you ever taught religious education? Tell us about it.

Yes! I am in my second year of teaching Faith Formation to the youngest children. This year I am teaching a K/1 class. I have actually deviated from the RCL materials because for the early years I found them a bit lacking in some of the more traditional Catholic elements, so I am using Catholic Icing instead.

I am truly enjoying using this program in my Faith Formation class – I love the focus on learning various elements/terms of the Catholic faith. We typically open with a prayer, then a stretching exercise, and song. Then  I dive into the lesson of the week, and we do our corresponding craft. We then finish up with another song, and prayer (Our Father and Hail Mary).

I have to say, my favorite part of teaching Faith Formation is hearing their little voices singing in praise! And I admit, the impromptu things they’ll say – kids truly do say the darndest things!

3. What are your favorite religious education resources for kids?

Well, I really do enjoy the Catholic Icing Book I mentioned above for littles (I would say 6 and under crowd). I also love 26 Letters to Heaven. Now, 26 Letters is not strictly religious education, it’s more of a complete PreK/K program, but it contains many wonderful religious education elements, and what’s more, it can be adapted to include older students. I also adore Catholic PACE: Program for Achieving Character Education. This is such an excellent, comprehensive program, and it could truly be used as a core for home educators for grades K-6, with just adding in Math and LA. Now, this isn’t a religious education program that’s going to teach you catechism per se, but it does an excellent job of teaching about virtues, Mary, the saints and other elements of our faith.

Though I confess, I love a more living book approach – learning about our faith, and Godly conduct and character, through excellent literature. Some of my picks would be:

Catholic National Readers
American Cardinal Readers
Angel Food Readers (all three fo the above are available through TAN Books)
Devotional Stories for Little Folks books (from Catholic Heritage Curriculum)
Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls
Father Brown Reader
Catholic Mosaic – which is actually a guide which uses excellent children’s books following the liturgical year, to teach them about our faith.

All that said, at the end of the day, I still don’t think you can beat just reading the word and story of God.  For this, I really recommend:

A Life of Our Lord for Children
The Acts of the Apostles
My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories

We have tried the drill and kill approach of memorizing our Baltimore Catechism, but I confess… we dropped it with my 9 & 6 year old. It was becoming nothing more than a chore, and the last thing I want is for our faith to become a chore in my children’s eyes. I did recently discover My Path to Heaven which I may work through in the New Year with my oldest (reviews say that it is likely a bit too intense for younger children).

At the end of the day, Religious Education needs to start in the home, and the best way to do so is to let the children see us living our faith – going to Mass, attending Reconciliation, praying our Rosary, celebrating the feast days of our blessed Saints etc…

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