Parents, do your children often sit through Mass entirely unengaged? How many of you have to bribe/entertain your young children with toys, coloring books, or snacks? Are you a frequent visitor of cry rooms, nurseries, and/or Sunday School classes for your little ones instead of having them in Mass with you? Do you struggle with whether or not your child is getting ANYTHING out of Mass until he/she is old enough to receive the Blessed Sacrament?
This is far from unusual nor is it anything you should feel badly about. The Church has been slow to provide spiritual materials to help your children understand and apply liturgy to their daily life. We ask parents to attend baptismal prep classes, send them on their own for 7 years, and expect their children to be engaged come 2nd grade when it's time for First Communion.
What can and should we be doing during those 7 years and in the years to follow? A lot! Have you ever seen a children's worship bulletin? I won't badmouth other companies here, but these are companies that use the Lectionary readings to make little puzzles and activities. Parishes often use these during Children's Liturgy of the Word and/or hand them out before Mass. The theory behind them is EXCELLENT. The little puzzles and games help the kids remember what the readings were and/or learn what Jesus says. Unfortunately, they do not help the children apply the readings to their faith or their life nor do they help the children unpack the meaning behind these readings.
I want to help. I am presently working on a children's bulletin series that helps your children understand the liturgical calendar, what the readings mean, and/or reflect on how to apply the meetings to their young lives. The bulletins will be for ages 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12. Ideally, children can use these before Mass to help them understand the readings. If your children are too antsy during the homily, that would be a time to utilize these though I highly recommend helping your kids sit through the homily. (More on that at a later date.)
I am rolling out samples for all of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday. If you have kids in the age ranges given (or grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbors, etc.), get in touch with me via FB, or email. If you aren't a personal friend, I have a generic email you can use: FirstCatechist@gmail.com. I will send you either hard copies or .pdf copies to print and check out for your feedback. It is my hope to spend the next 3 years writing this series and then being able to offer subscriptions to both parishes and individuals after it gets off the ground.