Nothing like a little Pink Floyd for your morning.
Actually, we’re going to talk about Preschool… in particular, Sunday Preschool. If you were hanging around on the FB page or on my Twitter account, you know that I somehow ended up on a Preschool committee. Really, I know how… I was one of the 4 who showed up. I thought that they were looking for input on starting a Catholic Preschool (think 2 days a week) during the school year. Plus, I wanted to meet other moms of littles!
(FYI: Preschool is huge and hugely competitive here in CA. It’s really kind of crazy and intimidating. People worry about getting their kids in the “right” preschool and having them all prepped for kindergarten (called “Kinder” out here,) as Kindergarten is more like 1st grade. Paste eating is so not allowed. And to top it off, preschools are crazy expensive, unless you go for the co-op route in which you volunteer for a few hours a month in the classroom. From those who have done it, they love it, but you need to find childcare for younger kids, etc. Great if you have family/ friends around to watch your littles, poor if you… don’t. And even then, you go from crazy expensive to marginally-disturbed expensive. We kept DD1 out of preschool this year, so it will be interesting to see how she fares in kindergarten in a few weeks. I have faith she’ll be fine, after all, she can read, do rudimentary math (mostly addition) and plays well with others. Anyway…)
Rather than looking to start a Catholic preschool, the topic was starting a Preschool to be held during the Mass for children aged 3-5. It would run parallel to the school year, comprising about 40 Sundays (no lessons on major Feast days/ holidays.) During our Family Mass (9:15a) the school aged children (5-9/10) are dismissed during the Liturgy of the Word, for the Children’s Liturgy of the Word, and return right around the Presentation of the Gifts. While they are away, they hear the Mass Readings, but in a more “kid-friendly” way, plus they get a little talk on the lesson that the reading are teaching. Then the family is reunited for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Parents are looking for something similar for their littles: aged 3-5.
I’m going to stop here and pause. I know I have some non-Catholic readers out there, so let me give you a quick rundown of the Mass if you have never been to one or it’s been a long time:
(Liturgy of the Word)
-Second Reading (on Sundays)
-Profession of Faith
-General Intersessions (Prayers of the Faithful)
(Liturgy of the Eucharist)
-Preparation of Gifts
- Prayers over the Gifts
-Sign of Peace
-Prayer after Communion
I grew up Baptist, and we would have Sunday School before the service. It would last about 45 minutes and then we’d head to service and would be expected to sit and listen the entire time. And it was a l-o-o-o-n-g time… 2 hours or so? While we were in Missouri, we did have a Sunday Preschool that DD1 attended when she was 3. They colored, listened to readings, learned a lesson, and sometimes had a craft. This was done during the Mass and I was a little bummed out because we like having the family together during the Mass. Whether they know it or not, by being there, the kids are learning about the sacrifice of the Mass. They learn the prayers and because the Order of Mass is fixed they come to learn how it all flows together.
On the other hand, there are families where maybe both parents do not attend Mass together. Maybe it’s because one spouse is away, or because there is only one parent. For parents like this, Mass (with kids) may not give them the graces that they are looking for, and Mass is more stressful than graceful. Maybe their children are high-needs and find it hard to sit during the hour long service. Maybe they (the parent) was given the stink-eye from someone because their toddler asked a question during the consecration, using her “outside” voice. (and you know it’s true: some of us are pretty poor examples of Christian Charity.) Maybe they just want to go to Mass and not have to parent for an hour. We were not asked to decide if a Sunday Preschool was needed, there was a need as parishioners asked for it. (But it really isn’t clear if the parishioners are looking for childcare or structured school. Right now we are planning structured school to which the children must be registered,) Our task is to figure out how to do it and how much to charge (the teacher in mind has either requested or been offered a stipend.)
I’ve been hearing lots of great things about the Catechist of the Good Shepherd program, and ideally, I (personally) would love to see that as a Saturday school option for the kids, (especially because the CGS teaches about the Mass and then the kids can apply that knowledge at Mass,) and even better would be to have an Adult Catechesis as well during the same time. Another idea that was thrown out on the FB page was to have the age range for Children’s Liturgy of the Word to go from 4-7/8 (once your child received their first communion, it would be expected that they would stay for the whole Mass,) another idea would be to have the preschool during the Mass but only to offer it the 1st and 3rd Sunday, so only running about 20 weeks and then the littles learn and experience the Mass more often.
So, honestly, I am stuck. Would the CCM family use a Sunday Preschool? Probably not, just like we don’t use a cry room (for the record, both of my girls have pretty calm temperaments,) but should that stop me from helping to create one? Does your Catholic Church offer a Preschool? Is it during the Mass or outside? Do you pay? How much?
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