I love to teach Little Lambs!….
But the first couple of years of teaching Little Lambs, was not easy. I was trying to figure out how to do it. I knew that I wanted at least one parent to come to class with their child (3-years-old through kindergarten). My experience with GIFT had convinced me that having parents involved allows the learning to continue at home. Parents really like to be involved and want to teach their children about our faith, they just don’t always know how – just like I didn’t know during those first years of Little Lambs.
[Note: If I had it to do over, I would have started with Little Lambs and then added GIFT the next year. Parents of preschool age children are excited to have their children involved in activities. This enthusiasm helps them see the value of committing to a class one Sunday per month and to doing home lessons. They discover that they enjoy teaching their children about our faith (and that they are also learning with their child). They see the value of “moving up” to GIFT when their child starts first grade.]
I just didn’t know what the interaction between the kids, parents, and teacher (me) would look like. I learned that we could do a lot during class because each child had a parent to help him/her. Crafts and games could be a little more difficult than you would find in a regular preschool classroom. I didn’t need to repeat the same thing lots of different ways because parents would hear the lesson and then reinforce it during crafts/games in the way that the parents had learned works best for their children. Parents would also hear other parents talking to their children, and they learned different ways to teach their children.
As I started to plan for the third year of Little Lambs, I was convinced that we don’t give our kids credit for what they are capable of learning. I knew that my son had known the name of every dinosaur — those big long names — yet I never thought to teach him the names of the items in our church! I was sure that the Little Lambs’ children could learn words like, “tabernacle” and “sanctuary lamp”.
And guess what? I was right. In our September Little Lambs’ class we learned about the tabernacle, sanctuary lamp, paten, chalice,…A couple of weeks later we had our October GIFT class and it was also on the Mass. One of our Little Lambs’ kids (3 ½ years old) came to GIFT with his older sister and parents. He was playing in the back of the room. I was talking to the GIFT class about genuflecting and asked, “When we genuflect, what do we face?” From the back of the room we all heard “tabernacle”. I then asked what do we look for so we can find the tabernacle in a church. And, once again, from the back of the room, we heard “sanctuary lamp”. As class continued we found out he also knew the names for the chalice and paten.
His mom had obviously worked with him since our Little Lambs’ class! It was really neat to see/hear this little boy who finds it hard to sit still, knowing some of the terminology of our faith! He is a great example of how eager kids are to learn if we just provide the opportunity. And that is what GIFT and Little Lambs is about – providing the opportunity for parents and children to learn about our faith (during class and at home) and then to live that faith.
Little Lambs’ classes are once a month (September – May) after our Sunday morning Mass. Parents tell me that their children want to go to Mass the Sunday mornings we have Little Lambs because they know Little Lambs is right after Mass!! Parents like that their children are learning about our faith and, at the same time, the parents are getting “tools” to continue the learning at home.
The first year of classes I will be posting is focused on the Mass. In each class the children will learn something about the Mass: items used at Mass, items found in Church, vestments, parts of Mass,….In April each child receives a Mass kit and we play “Mass”. The dads (or grandpas) are “priests” and the children are “altar servers”. Check out the pictures.