Praying the rosary is one of the things that I have long wanted to impart to our daughter. May being the month when we honor Mary in the Philippines, our family finally found the perfect opportunity to dedicate time last month to get to know Mary deeper and finally teach our four-year-old how to pray the rosary.
Understandably, with their very short attention spans, it is important that we prepare our preschoolers for this wonderful experience. Here are 5 things that we have been doing the past few weeks that may help your family in your daily prayer time as well:
I’ve been wanting to try praying a Decade a Day with my preschooler ever since I read about it last year in the Catholic Heritage Curriculum that we use for our homeschool. Knowing my Energizer Bunny, though, I knew that I had to wait until she was ready.
And she definitely was not ready at age three. I knew this because she kept tuning out during our attempt to pray a decade after making pipe cleaner rosaries as grandparents’ day gifts to her lolos and lolas a few months ago. I was glad to see her gain interest the past month and it was great timing, too, since we wrapped up our school year in May and winded it down with daily rosary time with the family.
To sustain her interest, we read lots of books about Mary. It helped that we knew a lot about Our Lady from our Jesse Tree activities too.We made a Mary diorama craft to add to our home altar and went to church to offer flowers to our Mother.
We also learned the basic prayers months in advance and explained to her how the rosary works. We read this lovely book about praying the rosary that explained why we honor Mary with the rosary, what the mysteries mean, and how to use one’s rosary.
3. Set realistic expectations
As most of you parents of preschoolers know, our little ones cannot be expected to sit or kneel for long periods of time. So, do not expect prayer time to be the same with them.
In our family, we decide whether to pray the full length of the rosary or just a decade. If I see that my daughter is in a playful mood, I suggest that we just pray one to three decades instead of forcing her to complete the rosary.
Expect also a lot of pauses to answer questions such as, “Where are we now?” and take time to show her which part of the rosary is not being prayed. We use a book with simple explanations of the mysteries as we go along, so queries like, “Why is Mary sad?” or “What is happening here?” also make our prayer time longer than usual. These are questions, however, that I believe should be answered because it makes our children understand the importance of the mysteries and prayers.
4. Be consistent
As in every habit, consistency is key. It is something I struggle with personally, so I am glad when our daughter reminds us when it is time to pray. The more we are consistent with prayer time, the more our children will take it to heart.
Showing our children the proper way to pray and a good attitude towards prayer are still the best way to teach them about it. Despite the many questions that pepper our prayer time, I still make it a point to really put myself in prayer mode to show the Energizer Bunny that praying the rosary is not mere lip-service but is actually one of the best ways to communicate with God and Mary.
Our daily family rosary time, admittedly, is a work in progress. I would love to know how you do it in your homes!