As a catechist for the very young, you have been given a wonderful gift: you will be witness to some of the children’s first conscious encounters with Jesus!
The children have already been touched by God’s love, and some may be familiar with Jesus through the Nativity story or family prayers. But it is your task (and blessing) to help them begin to recognize Jesus in their lives. This can be a joyful task, for preschoolers are often little mystics. They are more open and accepting of matters of faith than adults who are more cerebral!
Building a foundation for faith:
Faith in Jesus is founded on love, trust, and some understanding of Jesus when he lived on earth.
• Help them identify with the Child Jesus:
While we have few Scripture stories of his childhood (when children would most easily identify with Jesus), you can surmise certain aspects because they are logical or historically accurate. When you can’t confirm something in Scriptures, use the words, “might have”, “probably”, and “maybe” to indicate you don’t know for certain.
Jesus was a little child at one time, just like you.
Mary and Joseph worked to give Jesus food. Some of the foods he may have eaten are bread, fish, lamb, cucumbers and grapes.
Jesus probably saw animals when he was a child: sheep, dogs, camels, chickens and donkeys.
Jesus probably went to school.
Jesus learned to read.
Mary and Joseph probably prayed with him and told him stories from scripture.
Maybe Jesus played games with other children.
Maybe Jesus fell down and hurt his knees.
Maybe he picked flowers and watched birds.
• Meeting Jesus through Scripture:
Of course, also use Scripture. A good children’s Bible will be helpful here. To encourage children to develop an understanding of Jesus living on earth, here are some Scripture suggestions:
The child Jesus in the temple (see Luke 2)
Jesus stills the storm (see Matt 8, Mark 4, Luke 8)
The miracle of the loaves and fishes (see Matt 14, Mark 6, Luke 9)
Jesus visits his friends Mary and Martha (see Luke 10)
Bartimaeus (see Mark 10)
Scriptures that help children feel Jesus’ love and to develop a sense of trust in Jesus:
Good Shepherd (Luke 15)
Jesus and the Children (Matt 19, Mark 10, Luke 18)
When you pray with the children, begin your prayer with phrases such as:
Dear Jesus, our special friend
Jesus, our loving brother
Dear Jesus, who loves us so much
Jesus, who watches over us and listens to us
• Visual images:
Use posters such as Jesus with the children or other scenes that convey Jesus’ warmth and approachability. Give children holy cards with similar images. Displaying a statue of a loving Jesus would also be helpful.
Preschoolers learn best through play. Encourage them to use props to play the Scripture stories of Jesus.
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