Monday, November 9, 2015

Christian Education Rant

David has been more willing to attend Sunday school, which is his only school-like activity during the week. He is tolerant as opposed to enthusiastic, but no tears at least. Sometimes I wonder if it is very stressful for him, because he talks a lot about going home. After he spent some time with my MIL during worship, he had to keep tabs on where everyone was and make sure no one was going home without him. I told him we were going to go back upstairs to see the rest of the family after we did our Sunday school work. And I think he may see it as sort of a ticket to go home! But nevertheless, he is slowly adapting.

It has been fascinating to watch David's peer group develop, after years of teaching Sunday school myself. Preschoolers have the best comments, and very short attention spans! I shake my head just remembering how we kept trying to have "lessons" with them when they were only 2 years old. Of course there are older kids too, up to age 6 or 7. But there are 5 or 6 that are David's age, so they form the majority.

Earlier this fall, an announcement was made that in the next month or two, preschool parents would be expected to stop attending Sunday school with their offspring. I was a bit outraged at this decision being made for us! I know that it is difficult for the teachers when there is a peanut gallery full of parents. And some kids do act more mature with their parents absent. But who was going to accompany the young ones to the potty? Help with the complicated craft projects? Remove an unruly pupil? And what about the ones feeling anxious? It just didn't seem like something you could do on a specific timeline, especially when the kids aren't EXACTLY the same age. 6 months or a year can make such a huge difference developmentally.

I believe that Sunday school at a young age can be a gentle introduction to both church and school, with no pressure to preform. However, I've encountered an opposite viewpoint, where kids behave well in Sunday school because they have already been institutionalized at preschool. And toilet training is complete, etc. Therefore it should be no problem to lead academic lessons.

In any case, I still accompany David to Sunday school. He hates the worship time...but I think it is just a bit of an act on his part. He likes when the teachers single him out and give him extra attention for not joining in. I think we are going to have our hands full! "Show me your teeth!" said the woman leading music, as part of a song. He stewed and stewed about that, and much later went up to her privately and said...

" teeth are for FOOD!"

Also, people seem to think his Russian isn't very good, but he actually understands everything perfectly. Unfortunately when I'm there he speaks a lot of English, and I whisper cues to him in English to try to get him more interested in the topic. But he can speak Russian if he wants to.

Yesterday's lesson actually turned out well as it was pretty simple. The teacher had a few Bibles and asked each child (and adult) if they and their family members had Bibles at home, and what kind, and whether they read them.

Then there was a craft, which to my shock each child completed on his/her own. It was a milestone, for sure! Of course, they didn't completely follow directions, though. David kept adding more and more details to his sun, because he wanted it to be FUNNY.


  1. David! What a laugh his telling the Sunday School teacher why he wouldn't show his teeth.

    I don't understand why they'd ban parents - is it a problem, do you think? If they don't have 2-3 helpers they may be calling you back! And have they dealt with the ones who won't stay if their parent isn't there?

    I am happy with parents being present, as they may get the bug to teach themselves!

    I agree with you that Sunday School is s "warm up" to school and should be fun. What I really love is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd - that's what Catholics call it, but there's a Protestant version too. It's a kind of Montessori version of Religious Education. Really age-appropriate, but also spiritual and sacred.

  2. I'm actually allowed to stay, but with the language issue, I prefer not to participate actively. Sometimes I have to be in charge while the teachers are getting something. Certainly having a few extra adults on hand is important.


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