The primary goals and objectives of the Early Childhood Faith Formation program are to lead the child to a loving, personal relationship with God. This involves the child, parent or caregiver, catechist, parish administration and the parish community.
Early Childhood Catechesis strives to assist each child to:
- Develop a sense of wonder at the world around them.
- Become sensitive to the spiritual.
- Come to know that God is loving and caring.
- Develop an awareness of the presence of God in themselves, in others, and in all things.
- Appreciate themselves as gifts of God.
- Have a sense of belonging to the Christian community.
- Experience joy and ease in spontaneous prayer.
- Become aware of the attitudes and elements of celebration and worship.
- Develop their meditative and contemplative capacities through sensitive use of silence.
- Develop an awareness of the community of church as an important and continual support mechanism in their faith formation.
Parent or Adult Caregiver Oriented Objectives
Early Childhood Catechesis encourages participation from the parent/adult caregiver:
- Parent involvement is essential for optimum spiritual development of the child.
- The parent is the primary religious educator and has the ultimate responsibility for imparting religious and spiritual values.
- The level of successful Early Childhood faith formation is based on the involvement of the parents in that process.
- Parents are encouraged to discuss themes presented to the children during formation. These themes have religious dimensions that are significant to the preschool aged child. The themes developed are: Self esteem, feelings & emotions, family, friends, community, senses, animate objects (animals, plants, fish, birds), inanimate objects (wind, air, light, earth), new life and various celebrations.
- Parents are invited to attend early childhood training sessions along with the Coordinator/DRE catechists and volunteers.
- Parents are encouraged to promote spontaneous prayer with the child at home. Spontaneous prayer provides a comprehensive learning experience that blends language development, creative and critical thinking, communication, active expression and provides a window into the child’s understanding of God.
- Celebrations are basic to the program. Table and non-Eucharistic celebrations prepare the child for future involvement Mass and prayer services. Additionally, this may be experienced at home through meaningful family meals shared with an attitude of thanksgiving.
(Parent or Adult Caregiver Oriented Objectives continued)
- Some Parent involvement options include participation in the Early Childhood Program as a catechist, adult aid, or support person during the preschool session; assistance in craft preparation; phoning/email or similar activity; reinforcement of the session theme through home activities with the child and being present at the various child’s celebrations in the program during the catechetical year.
Early Childhood Catechesis encourages participation from the catechist:
- Realize that parents/adult caregivers are the primary religious educators of their children and come to a greater understanding of the responsibility of the parent in their child’s religious and moral formation.
- Understand the concept that the parent/child relationship is symbolic of the God/child relationship.
- Provide the child with a safe, loving, Catholic-Christian atmosphere in which to help with the religious formation of the child.
- Engage the children in activities using imagination and sensitivity to help foster a deeper understanding of their faith.
- Encourage spontaneous prayer and expression of the child’s relationship with God using all thesenses: sight, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
- Understand that sharing the wonders of the world that God gave us with young children, is forming them in their Catholic faith.
- Attend Early Childhood Specialization workshops and other ongoing catechetical workshops to increase the level of comfort in the formation setting and enhance knowledge of child development, spirituality and learning styles.
Parish Administration and Community Objectives
Early Childhood Catechesis encourages participation from the parish:
- Understand the importance and process of faith formation of pre-school aged children.
- Support the faith formation programs for young children and for the catechists who teach them.
- Assist in establishing a Sunday Pre-School Formation program if one is not in place in the parish.
- Recruit a Coordinator of Early Childhood Faith Formation as part of the umbrella of religious formation in the parish.
- Utilize the resources available for early childhood ministry from the Office of Religious Education: Coordinator of Early Childhood Faith Formation, attend Specialization Series, early childhood website, printed literature, approved text, etc…