Early Childhood Catechist’s FAQ
What are the most important things to remember as an early childhood catechist?
It’s vitally important that catechists of every age group remember that our primary aim as catechists is to “put people not only in touch, but in communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ” (Catechesi Tradendae, 5). Our most important task is to introduce young children to Jesus. One way we do this is through the methods we use -- stories, activities, music, prayer experiences, etc. But equally important (if not more so) is our personal witness – the warmth, patience, and kindness they experience in our interactions with them. Let us always remember to show them the face of Jesus, who said, “Let the children come to me” (Mark 10:14).
Another important thing to remember is that preschool children learn best when they are able to direct some of their activity. Offer some choices as you plan activities, and allow the children to guide themselves through the process.
Finally, remember that the development of faith is a process. There may be some concepts, facts and prayers for which your group is not yet ready. Appreciate the unique developmental level of the preschooler, and know that you are planting seeds that will grow in time.
I share a classroom with another group and need to transport my materials each week. What tips can you give me in setting up a mobile Allelu! classroom?
Shared space can indeed be a challenge. Be sure to check on whether it is absolutely necessary to transport all of your materials each week. Is there a storage cabinet in the classroom where you can keep at least some supplies between sessions? Better yet, is it possible to store closable shelves on casters that can be closed and locked between sessions, but opened for each class?
Large plastic bins with lids can be an excellent way to transport items for sessions. These bins can double as small tables (e.g., for the prayer space) when items are removed and a small table cloth is placed on top.
If you’re short on work surfaces, consider purchasing several plastic trays from a restaurant supply company. These are easily stackable and during class sessions they can serve as excellent surfaces for many activities, including drawing, painting, using modeling clay, and other kinesthetic activities.
Catechists in need of wall space to decorate can use large refrigerator boxes (check with an appliance store) and open them up, cover with fabric or contact paper, and hang artwork or visual aids on them. These “movable walls” can then be transported in and out of the classroom as needed.
There are a couple of extremely energetic children in my classroom. How can I control their exuberance?
Energy and enthusiasm is one of the gifts of early childhood, but they can cause problems if it causes the group to get off track or poses safety risks.
One way to minimize potential problems is to plan ahead. For example, make sure the room is arranged such that there are no long open spaces that might invite running. Ensure that things you do not want the children to touch or play with are put away. Prepare activities beforehand, and ensure that the supplies you need are ready and available. Long stretches of “down time” while the catechist prepares the next activity may invite behavior problems, as children tend to entertain themselves when they are bored, and sometimes they choose activities we would not choose for them!
Be enthusiastic. The energy you show as you talk to the children and engage them in activities will help to capture and maintain their attention. If you aren’t excited about what you are sharing, they will assume the excitement is to be found elsewhere.
Use a variety of active learning approaches. Try to draw upon a variety of sensory modalities (e.g., auditory, visual , kinesthetic) in each session. Alternate active times with more quiet, settled times, so children with more energy have an outlet, but are also invited to enter into silence at times.
Communicate your expectations early, clearly, and assertively. Let the children know what you expect prior to each activity. State rules clearly and concisely, in language that is developmentally appropriate. Don’t yell, but avoid language that sounds too much like a request the children could refuse (e.g., instead of asking, “Could I please get everyone to go to the circle area for prayer time?” say, “Now I need everyone to go to the circle area for prayer time”). Also, remember that proximity counts. You will likely get a better response if you calmly speak face to face with a child versus raising your voice from across the room.
What is the cost for the Child/Family Activity Sheets?
$12.55 per packet of 28 sheets/lessons.
Can Allelu! work as a Liturgical Year-based program?
Yes. Download a suggested lesson order for using Allelu! in this format here.
In a multi-day program, when should the placemat be sent home each week?
We suggest Fridays after working on the sheets in class during the day. Download a suggested lesson plan for multiday programs here.
Is Allelu! available in Spanish?