Tips and Tricks for Working with Younger Family Formation Students

Now that you’ve done a couple lessons in our first official month, it’s a good time to check in and issue some reminders, especially if this is your first year with Family Formation.  Some of these things apply to students of all ages, but if you are teaching younger kids you may find these suggestions to be particularly useful.

Be prepared.

  1.  Read through the lesson ahead of time and edit for your needs.  To begin with, each Home Lesson has a section labeled “for older saints.”  You can automatically assume that those topics are at a slightly more advanced subject matter, at a somewhat deeper level (appropriate for 3rd grade and older).  We absolutely want you to read the entire lesson as you prepare, but this may be one section you save to teach next time around.  (This is a good place to remind you thatFamily Formation lessons rotate on a three year cycle.  The lessons you’re doing with your 1st grader this year will come around again when he’s a 4th grader.)
  2. You’ll also want to consider your child’s learning style.  Younger students tend to be very concrete thinkers who see things at face value.  For example, in the lessons you just did on the Mass, your 5th grader can understand the big picture of flow and order, but your kindergartner just needs to know that this is something you do every Sunday and we meet Jesus there.  Seeing her parents paying attention and praying is the best concrete reinforcement for this lesson.
  3. Have your supplies ready to go before you call everyone together to begin.  Imagine your 5-year-old as having an Attention Span Countdown Clock on his head.  Do you really want to spend some of that precious time searching your office for a scissor and the right colored crayons?

Consider their skills and prepare stuff you know will be frustrating to them.

  1. Next week’s Vessels and Vestments lesson is a perfect example.  If you know the cutting will be too difficult or too time consuming for your squirmy 1st grader, cut and assemble those pieces before the lesson begins so you can spend more time talking about the Mass and less time in a melt-down over cutting on the lines.

Watch the time.

  1. If experience is telling you that 15 minutes is the amount of time you can hold your little one’s attention, simply plan your lesson for that long.  The advantage of this is that you can fit a 15 minute lesson in just about anywhere!clock
  2. You may want to consider breaking a longer lesson up into two times per week.
  3. There may be elements you can use in your bedtime routine.
  4. You may want to re-play popular games at another time to reinforce what you’ve learned.
  5. The whole point of Family Formation is to make passing on the Faith an integral part of your family life.  If setting aside an hour each week isn’t working for you, try some of these ideas to figure out another format.

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