Parents have the unique responsibility for the education of their children; they are the first educators orcatechists. They teach by their witness of the faith, through their values and attitudes, by their Christian example of love for Christ and his church. When children are baptized, parents accept the responsibility to raise their children in the practice of the faith...(National Directory for Catechesis 234-235)
In a special document entitled Letter to Families, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents” (16). You are the first and best role model for your child in these growing years. Your role as parent to love, teach, and lead your child to Jesus is a remarkable and noble vocation.
At this particular stage of development second graders can begin to project themselves imaginatively into the position/situation of others. They begin to see how their actions and the way they act in the world affects others. They admire their parents and trust other adults with authority. Your second grader has a strong desire to be part of the church community through the Mass and the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance. Your witness to faith and Catholic practices are vital because your child trusts you and wants to follow your lead. Remember, there is no greater influence on your child’s faith development than you.
Your Child’s Faith Development
Like other stages of development, your second grader’s faith development is important. Keep in mind that your child will come to know and understand the faith at his or her own rate of development. Here are some general points to remember.
Children at this age:
- Grow in their relationship with God particularly through prayer based on life experience
- Vest great authority in parents and other trusted adults
- Desire to join in the ritual of the parish community as seen in the desire to participate in penance and Eucharist
- Need help in formation of conscience
- Begin to sort out reality from imagination based on practical experience
- Need concrete experiences to understand concepts and religious truths
- Use classes and categories to order actions around them
- Can begin to project themselves imaginatively into the position/situation of others
- Begin to order the religious world
- View rules as inflexible
- Understand reality best in story form
- Identify with heroes and heroines of the Bible
- Identify with the stories of the Church (lives of saints for example)
- Desire to learn about people and their differences
- Accept attitudes of parents, teachers, the Church, and other social institutions toward differences in people
How You Can Help Your Child Grow in Faith
This year your child will continue to learn more about the Church and the importance of belonging, participating, and sharing in the faith community—the life of the Church. Through preparation for the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, your child will begin to experience the saving presence of Christ in his/her life. Your child will learn the importance of the Eucharist as the center of our life and the source of spiritual nourishment and strength for the body and soul. He/she will come to realize that the sacrament of Penance is a celebration of God’s love and forgiveness that gives us grace and helps us to become more Christ-like.
Here are several points that will aid you over the course of this year, in helping your child grow in his/her faith.
- Attend and participate in Sunday Mass as a family. Afterward, talk about some of the things that occurred during Mass—mention especially the Eucharist (Holy Communion). Remind your child that this is the year he/she will make first Holy Communion. Share some of your memories about the sacrament with your child.
- Use everyday opportunities and interactions to help your child experience forgiveness and the importance of forgiving others who hurt us. When helping to prepare your child for the sacrament of Penance (Confession) allow him/her to express any concerns or fears he/she might have. Be sure to attend the parent meetings offered for the sacraments.
- Learn all you can about our Catholic beliefs. Obtain a copy of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults from the diocesan Learning Media Center at (804) 622-5113 or e-mail email@example.com.
- Talk with your child about what we believe and why we believe it. If you don’t know an answer to a question, ask your catechetical administrator or your pastor.
- Share your experiences of faith and talk about how you see God working in your life.
- Be open to your child’s questions, and as a family work together to experience our Catholic faith. Take advantage of parish events, show that as Catholics we are part of a community.
- Follow Jesus’ example and his teachings, truly do your best to live a good Christian life.
- Pray the following prayers with your child: Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Act of Contrition, Apostles Creed, Grace before and after meals, Prayer after Communion, Prayers and responses of the Mass (if necessary, get the prayers from your child’s parish catechist).
Our diocese provides many resources and materials that will help you better understand the faith and work with your child at home. Among the resources is the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, an adaptation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For more information contact the Office of Catholic Education at (804) 622-5113 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know Your Audience
Just like Jesus, every good catechist knows their audience.
“The catechist – must take into consideration all the human factors of a particular age level in order to present the Gospel message in a vital and compelling way.” (NDC #48)
Who Are Your Second Graders? Faith Development
Children at this age:
- Grow in their relationship with God particularly through prayer based on life experience.
- Vest great authority in parents and other trusted adults.
- Desire to join in the ritual of the parish community as seen in the desire to participate in penance and Eucharist.
- Need help in formation of conscience.
- Begin to sort out reality from imagination based on practical experience.
- Need concrete experiences to understand concepts and religious truths.
- Use classes and categories to order actions around them.
- Can begin to project themselves imaginatively into the position/situation of others.
- Begin to order the religious world.
- View rules as inflexible.
- Understand reality best in story form.
- Identify with heroes and heroines of the Bible.
- Identify with the stories of the Church (lives of saints for example).
- Desire to learn about people and their differences.
- Accept attitudes of parents, teachers, the Church, and other social institutions toward differences in people.
- Bear in mind children's tendency to confuse past and present experiences because they are still limited in their sense of history and time. Clarify the differences - clarification is especially significant when introducing them to the examination of conscience. Need to assist children in sorting out what is real and relevant to the current examination of conscience, because they generally live in the present.
- Show children love in action and attitude, consistently building them up with praise, recognition, and appreciation for the children to understand their personal value.
- Help children form their consciences. Be careful to react consistently to an action, incident, or situation. (The children will realize that there are differences between what is dangerous, what is improper, what is annoying, what is accidental, and what is sinful).
- Help to prepare the children to understand the forgiveness of God. Concentrate on the reality of God's love and mercy as a tremendous gift which God gives to us. Begin to develop a sense of sin and wrong doing.
- Set an example for the formation of the children's values through their personal relationship with God, desire for union with God in prayer, and appreciation of the sacraments manifested through frequent reception.
Children at this age:
- Begin to master "things.”
- Develop "control" of language.
- Develop body skills.
- Become orderly.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Children at this age:
- Begin to develop real social awareness, but are still somewhat centered on "self.”
- Begin to develop sense of "community"; accept responsibility to do their part in classroom and home tasks, if assigned according to ability; realize that each person's task is important to the group.
- Can experience adults outside of family as important "bridges" to move into the world.
- Find it difficult to accept decisions of group when different from one's own.
- Can begin to dialogue in small group discussions as opposed to just responding one-on-one to teacher directed questions.
- Are upset by negative comments, especially from someone in authority.
- Exhibit curiosity and enthusiasm for life.
- Boys and girls may prefer to sit/work in separate groups.
Children at this age:
- Are able to think logically about concrete, real objects or experiences they have known for the most part.
- Learn best by doing, showing, and experiencing.
- Are not ready for interpersonal dialogue.
- Have difficulty seeing things through another person's point of view.
- Tend to have their perceptions dominated by their own viewpoints.
- Begin to generalize.
- Set standards which are often too high for themselves (which lead to disappointment if the activity proves too difficult).
- Pope John Paul II in On Catechesis in Our Time encourages the use of advances in pedagogy; biology, sociology as they help us to model God’s Divine Pedagogy (teaching us gradually in stages according to our level of development). The above noted information is consistent with such documents as the General Directory for Catechesis, the National Directory for Catechesis, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Catechetical Documents of the Church.
- The above sciences have limitations. While this information does provide references to typical age ranges, children continue to be viewed as individuals and individual differences need to be taken into account.
Catechist Information (Grade 2)