Sunday, August 5, 2012

Teaching The Lord's Prayer to Kids

"Our Father in heaven, holy be your name.  Your kingdom come, your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Do not bring us to the test but deliver us from evil. Amen."

"Hail Mary, full of grace!  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you amomg women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus."

"Holy Mary, Mother of God.  Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen." 

Yesterday was a significant day for us as a family.  It was our first time to pray the rosary with the active participation of our eldest son, Yanthy, who is three years old. 

We've been praying the rosary as a family since my husband and I got married.  We usually take turns leading it.  When our first born son was already a toddler, we let him join us by letting him touch or hold the beads of the rosary, by kneeling with us or by simply listening to us.  As he grows older, he gets exposed to it more as he witness me and my husband lead the rosary prayer in our home or in our community before the start of the Holy Mass.  We also pray the rosary together when we travel in our car during weekends.

Yesterday, as we were on our way to my parents house in San Mateo, Rizal, to celebrate my mom's birthday, Yanthy joined us in praying the rosary by leading the recitation of The Lord's Prayer.  He is so close to memorizing it.  He can already recite it with very little help sometimes on how the next line will start.  My husband and I were so happy and proud!

It has been our goal for our first born son to learn The Lord's Prayer when he was around two years old.  Since we noticed that he is musically-inclined and musically-gifted (he learns songs quite fast), we made it our goal for him to learn The Lord's Prayer through song.  He is already close to achieving this goal.  He can actually sing most parts of it without help.  We noticed though one factor that delays him from achieving this goal.  There are many versions or ways of singing The Lord's Prayer even in our own parish.  We realized that it would be easier  for him to learn it if he would hear it sang the same way each time.  Anyway, we chose to relax on that goal a bit and just watched him enjoy singing with the choir each time during Masses.

Then, the other day, my husband had a brilliant idea!  He made a "book" for our Yanthy.  He made a "book" on The Lord's Prayer where he printed the lines to the prayer in big fonts and he chose pictures that help illustrate the lines per page.  He printed these in bond paper and arranged them in book-style on a folder so our eldest son can read it like he is reading his books.  Yanthy liked it very much!  He read it many times the other night!   He also tried to memorize it as he read it without anyone telling him that we wanted him to memorize it! :)  My husband was surprised.  I told him that he should not be surprised anymore if Yanthy does that because he was already memorizing his books as early as when he was around two years old.  Memorizing his books is like second nature to him already.  Therefore, no one has to tell him to do that.  And he seems to like doing that.  So, I congratulated and thanked my husband for his great idea and for doing this for our son.

Yanthy loves to read and he love books a lot. Thus, it was really a  great tool to help him memorize The Lord's Prayer.  This book that his Dad made for him is now among his new favorite books.  He even chose to bring it yesterday to his grandparents' house to show it to them.

But he did not use it yesterday morning to help him lead The Lord's Prayer during our family rosary.  Yanthy tried to pray The Lord's Prayer from memory, making our family rosary yesterday a very memorable one.

My husband plans to make another "book" for our son after he has mastered and completely memorized The Lord's Prayer.  He plans to make a book on the Hail Mary next.  We are so excited!  I'm confident that our son would be actively praying it with us even before he turns five years old.

Let me summarize the different ways with which we taught our eldest son how to pray/memorize The Lord's Prayer.  You might want to adapt or find these useful in helping your kids learn some prayers too.

  1. Constant or Regular Exposure.  We just kept exposing him to the prayers.  Praying as couple, family or praying with our community before Masses.
  2. Praying Through Songs.  The Lord's Prayer is also one of his first favorite songs.  I remember when he was much younger, he would love to hold hand not only with us (his parents) but even with others Mass-goers who are seated beside us in church whenever we sing it.  He still loves to sing it these days but he likes to move around more when singing now.
  3. Encouragement.  We encourage him by praising him and telling him that we would be happy to hear him memorize it.  Kids love to be praised by their parents and they are constantly seeking our approval, so this is a very good way to motivate them.  In our family, this is our way of communicating to our son/children that our faith is something very important to us.  In fact, sharing our faith with our kids is our priority in our family and one of the reasons why we chose to homeschool.
  4. Teaching using our kid's natural gift and interests.  We recognized how our son likes to learn and how he learns fast.  By doing this, learning becomes fun, natural and fast.  It makes learning enjoyable and exciting for the entire family, the learner and the "teachers" alike.   
  5. Praying together.  While it's good to teach kids to pray on their own, praying with their parents and other family members is more enjoyable to them at a very young age.  Thus, it's good to pray together as a family regularly.  It helps the kids develop the habit and get the message that this is a family ritual we want them to embrace.  It makes praying also more attractive to them because they get to spend time with Mom and Dad.  During family prayers also, we get to influence or pass on a lot of our values to our kids.  The kind of prayers we say during our family prayers as well as our posture when we pray are all lessons in themselves.  Children get to observe all these in us parents and we are teaching them by our example by modelling to them either good or not so good ways of praying.
This morning, as I was finishing this blog post, I heard my husband congratulate my son again.  I rushed to the bedroom to find out what it was about and was very happy to find out that our eldest son has already memorized The Lord's Prayer.  I asked him to repeat it so I can hear and witness it.  He recited it once more completely and quite fast!  he has indeed memorized The Lord's Prayer!  Hurray!  God is good!  This Sunday is now a very memorable Sunday for our family because of what our eldest son has achieved.

I hope that this post/sharing has somehow blessed you and inspired you in your family prayer life.  A blessed Sunday from our family!

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