Segment One: “Sensitive Periods” of a Growing Child
Video Length: 10:35
Think of something you have done or learned as an adult that required you to progress through these four stages of development (albeit much more quickly than a developing child!). Perhaps it was in learning a new skill, or in training for a new job, and so on.
Discuss with the group how the concrete, cosmic, cultural, and constructive stages each managed to play out in your learning process.
Segment Two: The Child’s Absorbent Mind
Video Length: 10:54
Spend some time thinking about two different types of spaces (or perhaps, depending on the setting in which you minister to children, these spaces will be combined) — one in nature, and one in a religious setting.
Consider whether there is a specific place in your educational setting that you can bring children, so they might experience God’s creation in a real, concrete manner — perhaps an outdoor area, or an indoor garden, and so on.
Consider, also, whether there is a specific place in which children can spend time to interact with religious items — perhaps a sacred space set up in the classroom in which you teach or a chapel. There might even be an outdoor shrine to the Blessed Mother or a saint that is available to use. An environment like this allows a person to experience God both in His creation and in those who glorified Him best on Earth.
Discuss what these spaces are like, and what, within them, the children can see, touch, and interact with. If you do not have one or both of these spaces intentionally created or available to you, discuss how you might be able to create them.
Can you think of 5–10 items in each of those spaces that could specifically be pointed out to children, who at the ages of 3–6 often wonder, “What is this?”
Segment Three: Learning through the Concrete
Video Length: 9:47
In this segment we heard about the unique way certain Scripture stories captivate children ages 3–6. Four of these Biblical events are actually Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary:
- The Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38)
- The Visitation (Luke 1:39–56)
- The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1–20)
- The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22–38)
Choose a mystery and read one the Scripture passage that recounts it. Take some silent time to think about how a child experiences this story and try to feel the intrigue a child might feel by the events that unfold. Discuss your insights with the group.
Segment Four: The Child’s Need for Love, Care, and Protection
Video Length: 9:02
In this video, we heard about the particular affection children ages 3–6 have for the story of the Good Shepherd, because of the way it speaks to the love, care, and protection that all children desire, and which is a starting point for educating children.
Read the story of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, John 10:1–18. Then, in light of that passage, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 221 in the section titled “God is love.”
Discuss with the group how you, in your classroom with your students, can better communicate the love, care, and protection that is so necessary for every person to feel.
Segment Five: The Importance of Movement, Touch, Order, and Routine
Video Length: 10:53
Evaluate the ways you create/foster an orderly environment (or perhaps some ways in which we could be better about doing so). Think about the classroom in which you teach and the schedule your students follow.
Reflect on the following questions and each member of the group choose one or two to discuss. Feel free to share thoughts about how you could more clearly lay out or explain any of the routines or procedures within your educational setting, as well.
- What are some of the aspects of our daily routine that I have created or put in place procedures for?
- How have these routines and procedures been explained to the children I care for?
- How carefully do I try to stick to the routines in my educational setting?
- Have I tried to differ our routines and procedures, with the intention of keeping the children interested and engaged? If so, what was the result of that?
- Are there specific procedures or routines I could follow better, so that the children know what to expect each day?
- Are there certain areas of my educational setting for which I should lay out clearer, more structured procedures/routines?
Segment Six: Imitation Leading to Independence
Video Length: 11:09
Reflect on who in your life modeled the faith for you in a particularly beautiful way, whether they were aware of it or not, such that you were inspired to imitate their attitudes, habits, or ways of life.
Then, discuss what you would like to model for the children in your care (think specifically of actions and attitudes of faith, such as praying, being quiet and reverent in the presence of Jesus, thanking God for little things during the day or for your food, making the Sign of the Cross, and so on), such that they could imitate these things and eventually do them independently.