Faith at HomeExplore and enjoy your faith with your kids!
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In her book entitled Offering the Gospel to Children (Cowley Publications, 1992), Gretchen Wolff Pritchard strongly encourages us to teach children our faith language authentic symbols, images, stories, and songs in their daily lives so that church and Christian faith are as natural a part of their life as teddy bears and tricycles and friends and grocery stores and playgrounds. She offers many exciting ideas for doing just this; she focuses on a church school setting, but her approach gives rise to many ideas for families.
In addition to the typical Noah's Ark, what if among their toys our children had a Holy Family creche grouping they could play with year-round? And a church with an altar, paten, chalice, priest, and people? We could sing together the brief songs from our Sunday liturgy; alleluias and psalm refrains are short, easy to learn, and fun to sing.
With the stories of our faith, parents can use the Godly Play approach of presenting these stories to children in open-ended ways, so they can discover religious language for their own experiences of God and the Church. We can do this at home with unembellished Bible stories, letting go of our desire to show our children the "point" of the story and using a good book such as Tomie de Paola's Book of Bible Stories (Putnam, 1990) or his Parables of Jesus (Holiday House, 1987).
Centuries of preachers and praying people have found much richness in the Bible; we can offer this treasure to our children by relating a story simply and wondering about it together, without a predetermined result. By the way, Gretchen Pritchard has a wonderful annotated bibliography of children's books and children's Bibles both picks and pans that alone is worth the price of her book!
Parents of young children can choose from many ideas to create a rich environment in family life so our children can absorb and make their own the language, images, and stories of Christianity, as well as the particular experience of our church liturgies. The Spirit is at work as we parents incorporate each new story, habit, or activity into our lives with our children, and discover new treasure for our own spiritual lives.
Barbara Laufersweiler is an at-home mom, an Episcopalian, and the creator of Faith at Home, http://www.faith-at-home.com/ , a Web site offering help to parents as they explore and enjoy faith with their children. Copyright © 1999 Barbara K. Laufersweiler. All rights reserved.
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