Teaching our kids how to pray and helping them develop a relationship with God can feel difficult, especially when we have children of different ages. However, helping our children develop in their faith doesn’t have to be a complicated task.
Knowing how to foster your school-age child’s faith begins with realizing that kids need different spiritual food at different times.
Faith evolves in different stages through early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and throughout adulthood. School-age kids occupy what’s called the “Mythic-Literal” stage of faith, but we like to call it the “Stories and Rituals Stage”
Throughout middle-childhood, kids’ brains are focused on making sense of the world, figuring out what things mean, and how things work. Rituals and stories are the most important tools kids at this stage use to do that work.
Family rituals, (like regularly recurring times to pray, work, talk, and play together) and parish rituals, (like weekly mass, regular confession, and family involvement in parish activities) are critical for giving your kids a faith-based sense of structure, order, and belonging. Rituals help kids experience the faith in their bones. Their muscle memory records the activities that create a lifelong sense of belonging to God and his Church.
In addition to being ritual-hungry, school age kids turn to stories to make sense of the world. Instead of just letting them pick-up passive lessons from the stories they see on tv, movies and social media, make sure you spend time every day actively reading and discussing bible stories, stories of the lives of the saints and others stories that help kids encounter examples of the way our faith can help us make a real, positive difference in the relationships we have with our family, friends, and the world.
School age kids rely on rituals and meaningful stories to help them know who they are, where they come from, and what they are called to be. To feed your school-age kids’ souls, make sure you provide a steady diet of both.
To explore more ways to help your kids fall in love with the faith, check out Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids.