What would you like to see in CCD?


#1

As a parent of school aged kids, what would you like to see in their religion classes? The class I teach has had its final class and we will be closing the program with mass next week. Many of the kids that started the year stopped coming… some due to conflicting sports schedules, some due to the kids not wanting to be there, some due to the parents thinking we don’t teach enough and aren’t strict enough. I’m not the DRE, but I like to help where I can so I’m trying to come up with suggestions for next year’s program. Our program is obviously failing because in the 4 years I’ve been helping, overall attendance has declined and general participation is abysmal. The lower grades have a decent retention, but a year or two after first communion, there is a huge drop off in attendance. We have good textbooks, we have good priests/deacons that are willing to come give presentations, we do not have enough volunteers, parental involvement is pretty much nil, the kids are too busy with school’s homework and sports schedules and our program is 6:30-7:45 Wednesday nights.

Basically, I’m looking for tips on how to organize the program to help with retention, how to get the parents more involved in teaching/living their faith, how to help make the learning enjoyable and not just one more class at the end of a very long day, or anything else you think might be a good tip. Any help is appreciated.


#2

as a DRE talking to parents, I would like to see parental involvement, as volunteers in our program, in teaching and modelling the faith at home, in communicating with me and catechists, in participation and the numerous offerings we have to assist your faith formation, and most of all, I would give up all the rest if you would please take them to Mass.

I know you are not doing much at home with them after first communion because the come back for quincenera or confirmation and have not been to confession, or even Mass, since then. That, you cannot blame me or my catechists for. I am using “you” in editorial, not specific, mode to address parents who would no more participate on this forum than they would take their child to Mass during summer vacation. insert head-banging smilie:banghead:

I join my appeal to Journey’s - talk to us!


#3

Wow, that’s a tough one.

One thing I think is usually lacking in CCD programs is the fact that the teachers aren’t teachers – just very dedicated volunteers. Now, that’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation. Teachers are taught how to manage a classroom, how to engage with the kids, etc etc. I have never taught CCD, is there any formal training for the volunteers? I did fill in once for a friend an it was a real challenge trying to manage the kids, capture their attention, and keep things moving along – those kids sure can go off on a tangent!

Perhaps a local school teacher would be willing to do a bit of volunteering over the summer to “Teach the teachers?” Some good tips on engaging kids, etc. Just a thought.

As far as scheduling goes, I wonder if you would have any more luck on Sundays, immediately following Mass? I know, you’d probably have trouble with conflicts on Sports there as well, but perhaps you could poll the parents and get their feedback?

I was also kind of underwhelmed by the textbook as well. It was very vague and frankly, boring. I don’t know how many choices are out there for books, but maybe you could look at some others to compare.

And lastly, I think there should be a real focus on Jesus’ commandment to Love One Another. There is sooooo much bullying and violence in our schools, that the kids really need this.

PS One question - at what age does your parish Confirm? Do you get them back at that time?


#4

every diocese in this country has a catechist certification program, and a large part of the time is devoted to methodology, lesson planning, classroom management etc. Whether or not individual pastors insist their catechists take the training is another matter.
In this town alone families can choose among 3 parishes and 3 missions with classes for their children at just about any day and time they could wish, yet we still have fewer than 20% of the children who should be enrolled. Why?
the parish has to choose among textbooks approved by the bishop, and yes, some are less than stellar, but they are a starting point, not the total of what should be taught. Yes we do have school teachers volunteer, but they too are busy, and often work on Saturday or after school, when most CCD programs happen. The scheduling is usually what the parents prefer, and Sunday works if the parents are brining the children to Mass, but not otherwise, and not if the parish has parking or space issues.


#5

We confirm at the end of high school and that is a totally different program, but yes, attendance of that two year program is usually much higher.

We do not require any formal training for our teachers, and trained teachers have been asked (begged?) to help, but they can’t find the time because they are so overworked with their day job.

I don’t know if changing the day would help much, but it might be worth bringing up. Schools don’t often do sports Sunday mornings around here.

Our textbooks are Faith and Life, so they are really quite good… but they are still boring old books and not flashy computer learning software that kids are used to.


#6

Make it interesting
Make it relevant
Make it truthful

Kids are not stupid - they can take the hard stuff, and they hunger for the Truth. Don’t talk down to them, don’t try to protect them from the Truth because you think it’s too complex. They are not going to be compelled to listen to some dry and boring presentation on the Trinity if it is not made interesting and relevant. No matter how fantastic the Truth might be - they are not going to care if it is not presented in such a way that they will engage with the content.

Kids live in an information saturated world - lectures and presentations will not cut it if you want them to actually get involved.

I highly recommend the videos from Saint Michael’s Media called The One True Faith. This show is extremely popular with high school aged kids because it cuts to the chase and tells it like it is. There are parishes and prayer groups that use episodes of this show as a starting point for discussion on Catholic topics.

Here are two sample episodes of the show:

Eat My Flesh

Catholics and Sex

I’m not saying that this replaces a CCD program - but as a once a week discussion starter it is fantastic.

You can view all episodes of this show by going to the link in my signature and joining as a Premium member.

~Liza


#7

8 years ago 130 children from this parish celebrated 1st communion in 2nd grade, this year in 10th grade, only 60 came back for confirmation. Even granted these are not all the same children, we are still missing 70 from this class. Of those 60 about 30 had been attending CCD or Catholic school at all in the intervening years before 9th grade, confirmation prep. Parents? you promised solemnly at your child’s baptism to see to his religious education.


#8

Kids love to ask questions and discuss their faith, if they’re given the chance. Any youth ministry I’ve ever been involved in, the most popular activity was when a priest or even a panel of religious would make themselves available for open discussion and the kids would just fire away question after question after question.

My daughter and I just attended a mother/daughter retreat this past weekend. We had adoration and there were several college aged girls that gave witness talks about how their faith was formed growing up, My daughter did look bored a few times, but the minute it was over, she wanted to know when we could do it again.

Kids want to have topics about the faith and how it pertains to their lives growing up. They want to know “why” we do what we do as Catholics and that they do have a place in the Church.


#9

I see many threads on here talking about high attendance at Protestant VBS and Sunday school classes. Maybe an idea is to talk to your fellow Protestant friends who have high attending classes and ask them what they do, what books they use, what the format of their classes are. Then tweak those ideas into Catholic ones.


#10

Parents? you promised solemnly at your child’s baptism to see to his religious education.

i’m dre at 2 parishes-- what i want to see in a program is to be PUT OUT of BUSINESS-- almost. i want parental involvement to be SO HIGH, that our programs change focus-- not to education the children, but to edifying and strengthening the faith life of the whole family.

in our programs, regular attendance at sunday mass is an expectation of the program. the families who have always gone to mass still do. the families that never did still don’t.


#11

amen amen amen
I want my job to go away because I want all Catholic children either enrolled in good solidly Catholic schools or homeschooled in religious education by solidly Catholic parents, and my job would revert to what it should be, continuing faith formation for adults, RCIA for new Catholics and so forth.


#12

[quote="journey137, post:1, topic:197499"]
As a parent of school aged kids, what would you like to see in their religion classes? The class I teach has had its final class and we will be closing the program with mass next week. Many of the kids that started the year stopped coming... some due to conflicting sports schedules, some due to the kids not wanting to be there, some due to the parents thinking we don't teach enough and aren't strict enough. I'm not the DRE, but I like to help where I can so I'm trying to come up with suggestions for next year's program. Our program is obviously failing because in the 4 years I've been helping, overall attendance has declined and general participation is abysmal. The lower grades have a decent retention, but a year or two after first communion, there is a huge drop off in attendance. We have good textbooks, we have good priests/deacons that are willing to come give presentations, we do not have enough volunteers, parental involvement is pretty much nil, the kids are too busy with school's homework and sports schedules and our program is 6:30-7:45 Wednesday nights.

Basically, I'm looking for tips on how to organize the program to help with retention, how to get the parents more involved in teaching/living their faith, how to help make the learning enjoyable and not just one more class at the end of a very long day, or anything else you think might be a good tip. Any help is appreciated.

[/quote]

Bottom Line Up Front: I want two things (1) New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism for the kids, and (2) New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism for the parents.

I want CCD to take work. Work by the DRE. Work by the teacher. Work by the student. And MUCH work by the parent. I want the kids to really feel like they've accomplished something as they graduate to the next level. I want them to know their faith - not merely the basics that anyone can know after reading the first 9 chapters of Catholicism for Dummies.

I want each year to build on the last. I want HS students educated in basic apologetics. I want 4th graders to do written reports and presentations on their favorite popes, and I want 8th graders to do written reports and presentations on their favorite eccumenical counsels.

I want the DRE or Pastor to call up parents who aren't meeting their parental obligations to determine how we can help their child (and the parent) succeed.

I want all kids trained as alter servers by 5th grade. I want all kids trained as lectors by 12th grade.

I suppose, to sum it up, I want an organized, intense, education of our faith. If you're lucky enough to send your child to a Catholic school, then the parents can benefit by being less involved. But if you don't (or can't) send your child to a Catholic school, the parents have an obligation to "homeschool" their child - with the help of the DRE and education programs - to approximate the same religious education the student would have received by attending a well-run Catholic primary education (K-12).

Pax,
OA


#13

Is there any chance you can change the time? Our parish has it’s CCD program on Sunday morning during the middle Mass time. Parents and children can attend the first Mass and the children stay on for class to be picked up later, or just the parents can attend the middle Mass while the children go to class (for the younger children who have not receved 1st Communion) or the children can get dropped off for class and the parents can come back and they attend the last Mass together. At registration we had a sign up sheet and parents were expected to sign up and help the teacher for 2 lessons. Since most were already there for Mass, they were more willing to do it.


#14

I wanted to post again and say thanks to everyone that has participated so far. I have a few things I can bring up in our end of year meeting as suggestions for next year, but if anyone else has any more ideas on how to change the situation, I’m still listening :slight_smile: We all know it needs changed and what we would like to see happen regarding involvement, but I was looking more for concrete things that we could do that would lead us down the path so eventually we can have that ideal program we all dream about.


#15

practical:

make parental attendance at a certain number of classes mandatory. not so much in a way the catechist is forced to find ways the parent can help, but more as guests, listeners. make that number significant-- like 6 or more times.

make your battle cries “teach toward conversion-- ours and the students’” and “no more drive by catechesis!”

make regular MASS attendance an expectation of the program. perhaps it won’t increase mass attendance yet, but, it will, over time begin to make some impact on parents that Mass IS important. (we’re still waiting, but this IS the hill we’re willing to die on!)

assign ONE week every month for homework. make sure parents know to expect homework from every grade each month at that week. the homework should be a combination of book work, devotional work, corporal or spiritual works and online learning.

expect each catechist to cover specific topics during the year. there’s hardly a catechist in the world who doesnt benefit from a being accountable for a sylabus and a catechetical leader to whom they account for class time. ask catechists to identify topics that are hard to teach in their sylabus. then either workshop the topics for all catechists OR invite a guest catechist to teach it. (trinity is the hardest one around here. i’m of the belief that any layman teaching trinity for more than 10 minutes is probably unwittingly teaching heresy. another tough topic-- the 4 last things. many catechists don’t know how to teach this.)

get excellent books. Ignatius Press has the best content, but they’re a REAL challenge for the typically under-prepared catechist.

start a drama closet of mateirals availble to all grades. drama should be part of catechesis because our Faith is a STORY-- the TRUEST and BEST story ever told.


#16

Amen to that!

Our kids go to a Catholic K-8, but next year our oldest will be in high school. We’re homeschooling her in Theology, Literature, English, History and maybe language and sending her to the public school for all other core classes because we’re one of 8 homeschoolers in the county…

I would not send her to our parish’s CCD program. Why? Too much time spent begging the parents of most of the students to bring their kids/take them to Mass/take them to confession/live their faith. I don’t need to clear my daughter’s schedule on Wednesday from 5:30 - 7 so that you can say the rosary, take her to confession, sing songs at the nursing home, or have a Christmas party. Those are 4 classes, off the top of my head, out of twenty, at our parish. Yes, twenty classes, that’s all.

I’ll tell you what we’re missing, though, from this year to next. We’re missing a community of faith that we are used to. I liked the “backup” that I got from the school. I think that is so important in the high school years, especially, and I don’t know how we’re going to replace it.


#17

It would be really great if our DRE would have special days set aside for faith formation with activities found in books such as The Big Book of Family Gatherings and The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions. Our parish does have special "prayer days" set aside for second graders for the weekend before they receive their sacraments, but it's hard to tell if the kids actually learn anything from just those couple Saturdays in their year. They should be more frequent, and all throughout their school career.

I bought both of those books above to further emphasize the chapter lessons in our Sunday School book. (I taught the 1st grade this past year) I also bought Snip & Tell Bible Stories, (protestant book) and did a few snipping activities that went along w/ our current chapter, which really caught the kids' interest, too.

At the beginning of the school year, not a single first grader knew the Lords Prayer or the Hail Mary, so I made a makeshift crown out of construction paper and aluminum foil, then glued a yellow cardstock Alpha and Omega symbol on the front. I explained to the kids that Jesus is the King of Kings and the Alpha and the Omega. Then 1 kid who plays Jesus puts the crown on, and a couple other kids who play his Apostles say, "teach us how to pray" and the Jesus has to recite the Lords Prayer. Because I'm pretty sure that's what happened in the Bible.

I also had a person to play Mary wear a blue receiving blanket over her head like a veil. A person to play Archangel Gabriel wore a halo made of white pipe cleaners. I had Gabriel go up to Mary and say, "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." Then Mary went over to a person playing Elizabeth and Elizabeth told Mary, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." Then the rest of the kids in the classroom would stand up and say the rest of the prayer facing the person who played Mary.

Because we did one of these prayers at the beginning of class, and one of these at the end, every kid knew both prayers by the end of the school year. I also tried to act out some of the things we learned in the book, like some parables of Jesus, and of things that happened in the Acts of the Apostles.

Kids have to sit in their classroom at school most of the day, and I wanted them to be able to get up and move around. Putting on skits to mimic the lesson in the book helped them to not be so antsy and further stressed what was in the chapter. I'm amazed at how well the kids payed attention, how eager they were to learn and how much they learned.

But whole family faith formation days, I'm talking multiple in a year, not just 2 a year, with activities that stress the Sunday Gospel or Catholic teaching, would be so great!


#18

do you see the problem here

It would be really great if our DRE would have special days set aside for faith formation with activities found in books such as The Big Book of Family Gatherings and The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions. Our parish does have special “prayer days” set aside for second graders for the weekend before they receive their sacraments, but it’s hard to tell if the kids actually learn anything from just those couple Saturdays in their year. They should be more frequent, and all throughout their school career.

one hates special occassions that are not CCD, one wants family days.
one insists they be taken to pray the rosary, the other considers it a waste of time

one wants field trips, one considers anything outside the classroom ineffective and useless, and so forth


#19

Yes, I do see it. It must be very difficult to navigate, and I give you all the credit in the world for staying with it and trying to make the best CCD program for all involved.

And I should have been more clear in my post - I don’t ever consider saying the rosary, going to Mass, going to confession, or anything else of that sort a waste of time… we just do it at home. Those are my obligations to fulfill at home, with my children. I guess teaching them is my obligation, too, and I guess I just have a different opinion of what needs to be “farmed out”.

It’s the begging that I can’t take. Our priest and DRE just about begged parents to do what they were supposed to. That just never works.


#20

I am a volunteer DRE for my small parish. Our program has about 100 kids in it, Preschool through 5th grade.

If I could plan an ideal CCD program I wouldn't have strict grade level classes. I'd have a "Catholicism 101" for little kids (PK-1st) and bigger kids (2nd-5th). Sacrament Preparation, of course. And a series of classes for those kids who have mastered the basics, typically the kids who attend Mass every week and RE every year, and are ready to move on to more specialized topics.


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