PSR teachers--how do you get it done?


#1

I’m teaching 3rd grade PSR and I’m needing advice. It’s my first year and it just seems like there’s so much to teach these kids and so little time to do it. I realize that I don’t have to teach them the entire Catholic faith in a year or anything like that, but I want them to learn something!! Complicating matters is that they’re a pretty rowdy bunch; good kids, but PSR is in the evening after school, so they’re tired from that and can get wound up really easily. We’ve been trying to alternate a week of book learning with a week of games that hopefully re-inforce what they’ve learned. Any veteran teachers have any advice? Do they actually soak up some of this info? I know I’m not wasting my time or anything, I enjoy the kids, but I also think back to my PSR days and I want them to get more out of it than I did.

I was just looking at the Why are cradle Catholics disobedient thread and Shiann said “The extent of my catechism growing up was a COLORING session followed by cookies. I remember nothing religious about my catechism growing up.” I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her!!

This is exactly what I want to avoid!!


#2

generally the 3rd grade curriculum focuses on the four marks of the Church and on the Mass. The 3 textbook series used in this diocese focus on the last part of the Apostles Creed in the first half of the book, and on the Mass in the second half of the book. Either they have just made their first communion, or are still preparing, and either way need to understand what is going on at Mass and how to participate fully. They also are beginning to understand what it means to be Catholic, forming Catholic identity. Whatever you can do to further those goals is admirable.

One tip for teaching religion in elementary grades: focus on communicating one main idea in each class, and reinforce that concept in several ways–reading, orally, writing, game, art or craft, skit etc.

Most of your textbooks begin with a story about a personal experience of a child of that age, then with a relevant scripture, and end with “what the Church teaches”. May I suggest a different lesson plan: begin with what the Church teaches, then give and explore the scripture which relates to the teaching, and then help children draw on their experience to understand the teaching. This turns traditional approaches upside down and restores the proper order of the presentation.


#3

I am a First Communion teacher. What I have learned is that the kids need structure and consistency. For example:

  1. Say decade of Rosary
  2. Review last week’s lesson and homework
  3. Go over next lesson with children
  4. Class discussion regarding text and how relates to their lives
  5. Class project related to lesson
  6. Assign homework, answer questions
  7. Catechism questions game
    Done in “circle time”:
  8. Saint story/discussion of recent Feast Day/special Church event
  9. Show and tell (must be article of Faith or story)
  10. Clean up and end of class prayers
    I pretty much stay within a framework like above–the kids know what to expect, they know if they are naughty or rowdy that we won’t have time for “circle time”. I make rules very clear on the first night. If I have to talk to a child more than once to remind him/her of rules–I have a “time out” chair near the teacher (me), that they must sit in for the class and then I talk to their parents after class to discuss child’s behavior and why they had to sit in “time out” chair. I’ve only had to do this 2 times in the last 3 years!!!

Good luck. It’s wonderful that you’ve taken the time to teach!


#4

I am going to agree with Giannawanabe - set up a reasonable schedule for each class and stick to it - include games in each class if they are having a hard time sitting still.

You might want to add a small snack too - they may just be hungry too if they are coming in the evenings.

I would also suggest sitting down and doing a rough draft of which class time each lesson will be done at. I have the entire year planned out but may need to revise it as we go through lessons - like the one we are working on right now will be spilling over into another week - we are on our third class for it but the first one also had our required “self safety” lesson taking up part of our time.

Some other suggestions - follow the Church calendar to include small lessons for your children and their families - I send home a note at least once a month talking about what my students are learning in class so they can reinforce what we have learned.

I also sent home at the beginning of the year a letter thanking the parents for sharing their children with me and remind them that they are the childs first and most important teacher, I am only there to help them :smiley:

Brenda V.


#5

I agree with Giannawannabe too. The structure is really helpful with children in general. I am a private teacher, but have been considering teaching CCD. Right now, though, we travel on the weekends to see our families, and I don’t know if we could find someone to share the duties.

Also, an occasional treat helps kids alot! Positive reinforcement is great, and it is good to develop a good rapport with the class on that level, as well as bringing in something nice for all of the students, like mission (plastic) rosaries, or even let them make their own!


#6

Thanks for all the ideas. You all sound like great teachers. I’m really enjoying the kids this year. We did “game night” tonight with hangman and Bible baseball and I was pleasantly surprised–they’re actually retaining some of the things we’ve talked about!! :smiley: I’m having fun, it’s just the first year jitters. Thanks for all your help!


#7

if you don’t have a lesson plan, your’re dead, even if it is a rough one. You have to review the material before class. The best time is right after your last class, because you can begin with an evaluation of what went wrong and right with that class, then plan for next week.

suggestions: begin by reading the scripture and CCC citations for the topic given in your Catechist Manual, and pray and mediate for a little while. then go over the lesson, read the suggested activities and supplemental material (which is just suggested, not mandatory) and start planning.

give yourself a structure for each session and it will be easier to get the kids in the structure.

tip: if you show a video or read a story, make sure you have seen it or read it first, know what lesson you want them to draw from it, and how it fits into the topic being presented. don’t let yourself get surprised.

if you are new, try out craft activities and games on your own kids beforehand. I always ask DD about crafts, especially potentially messy ones. She once saved me from having preschoolers step in fingerpaint in bare feet to make prints on butcher paper. She probably saved my job that time. She also warned me not to let 6th grade boys do a craft involving rocks. I did not listen to her, to my everlasting regret.


#8

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