Monday, September 26, 2011

Suggestions for Parents

Children from the True Vine Atrium
waiting to join their parents in Church.

A new year of Christian Formation is underway at Christ Episcopal Church! There was great energy and excitement in the air on Sunday as our atria and our youth and adult classes met for the first time.

On Saturday, I met with parents who are new to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, to give them an orientation to the ministry. Included in the information I shared with them were some suggestions for parents, which I thought would be helpful for all of us involved with the Catechesis to remember as the new year begins. Enjoy!

Suggestions for Parents

As a parent, you can support child's growth by bringing them to the Atrium regularly and arriving on time as much as possible. New presentations are made to the children almost every week, and we widen our discovery of the faith as we go along. As you are able, dedicate Sunday mornings to the spiritual growth of your children.

Please know that children may not wish to talk about what they have been doing in the Atrium, or may not be able to. Going to the Atrium is more like going to Church than going to school. Just as it might feel strange to have someone question you about what you did or felt in worship, children may not wish to answer questions about their time in the Atrium, or may not be able to put into words what has happened there. You can support your child’s work in the Atrium by offering affirming comments about your child’s time spend growing with God. Also noticing elements of the Liturgy that correspond with things we are learning in Atrium can be helpful. When you have questions about what your child is doing in the Atrium, talk to a Catechist to learn more. 

There are very few papers and crafts sent home from the Atrium. Children take something home on the inside from their time in the Atrium, just as we do from Church. Art work and collages that children create in the Atrium are collected in a folder. A few times during the year, your child will review his or her folder with a Catechist and then bring all of their work home. In my family, we collected this work in a large old fashioned scrapbook, and we have enjoyed having this keepsake from atrium, and seeing how the children's work progressed over the years. 

We will communicate regularly with families about life in the Atrium via email and through our blog, Thoughts from the Sheepfold. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to receive new blog post via email in the box on the right margin of the blog. We are always happy to meet with parents to talk about their child's development, and about what we are doing in atrium!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tour of the Atrium: The Room

My summer tour of the Good Shepherd Atrium is coming to a close! I thought today I would try to show you some pictures of the room so that you can see how all of the pieces fit together. I'm taking these pictures from my height so they can't be a real indication of how the room looks and feels to the children. But I wanted to sketch the broader layout for you. Bear with me as I try to get you oriented - I sometimes struggle with directions!

The photo above is of the room when you step in the door and look straight ahead. The walk in coat closet is on the left, several liturgical works are straight ahead against the wall, and the prayer table area is in the right corner of the picture.

Shifting your gaze to the right gives you this view. The Good Shepherd works are just in front of you, infancy narratives are in the white shelves facing you (in the middle of the room), and the parables are behind.

Shifting your eyes once more to the right gives you this view. All of the works which tell about Jesus' last days, and his resurrection are straight ahead and the water source and clean up area are in the closet on the right.

If you walk straight into the room about halfway to the back wall (alongside the liturgical works) and look to the right you see this view of the prayer table, parables, the liturgical calendar, and the art area in the back corner of the room.

Moving even further toward the back wall and looking back gives you this view of the practical life shelves in the front and the works about Jesus' death and resurrection and the clean up area in the back of the picture.

If you walk across the room and stand by the liturgical calendar you can look back and see the liturgical works along the wall (that were straight ahead when you first stepped into the room). You can also see the practical life works on the left side of the picture and the prayer table area on the right.

Moving even further towards the far wall and turning around shows you this view of the liturgical calendar, chasubles and prayer table.

I hope this makes some sense! If you have any questions or if I missed something you wanted to see on the tour please let me know.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tour of the Atrium: Good Shepherd

Our tour of our atrium for 3-6 year olds is almost complete! But where would we be without the Good Shepherd? The Parable of the Good Shepherd has a special place in the atrium because it has such an important place in the children's hearts. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and he knows each one of us by name. We listen for his voice and he leads and protects us with love. 

This area is dedicated to the Good Shepherd works. The table on the left is only used for working with the Good Shepherd materials and the sheepfold always sits on top of it. The drawer on the left is where the sheep and Good Shepherd pieces are stored (although we often leave them out as they are in the photo above to attract the interest of the children). The drawer on the right holds the small altar, fair linen, and other pieces that we use with a later Good Shepherd presentation.

This little bookcase on the right holds booklets for the Good Shepherd works, line drawings of the Good Shepherd and sheep for tracing, a few images of the Good Shepherd, and words to the 23rd Psalm.

The Good Shepherd materials are loved by the children (and the catechists!) and this area is one of the first that you see when you enter our atrium.