Sunday, September 25, 2016

Recap - 9/25/16 CGS session

Hi everyone,

It was so nice to see all the smiling faces today, to make some new friends, and to see old friends again!  It is going to be a great year!  I can't wait until next week when the rest of the children join us!

Today we learned some basic "grace and courtesy" lessons, which guide us and help us understand how we should act in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium.  We learned:

- How to introduce ourselves
- How to say "excuse me" if we need to pass by someone while they are working
- How to say "thank you" when someone does something nice for us

To the parents, these might seem like basic instructions that you are already doing at home, but it is important for us to reinforce that we use these behaviors in the atrium, too.  It helps set the stage so the children know what to expect.

We also learned how to "make silence."  This is especially important; it helps calm the child and center him/her toward the individual works they will do later.

We learned to "walk on the line" -- the tape line that surrounds our room.  This also requires intense focus, especially for our youngest children. Many of these exercises may seem even a bit silly to adults, but Maria Montessori and Sofia Cavalletti (the founder of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program) found that they are highly effective in helping children develop not only their large motor skills, but also in developing their ability to focus and concentrate.

We then learned about the prayer room -- a special place we will go each time to thank Jesus for all the good things he has given us. We learned about the way they should behave in the prayer room -- quiet, reverent and carefully.  Sometimes this is especially hard for children, because the prayer room is at the end of the session.  So they get a little antsy sometimes.  That's okay; it is a work in progress.  Each time, it will get a little better! 

And there will still be some days, after weeks where the children are especially focused and concentrated in the prayer room and in our "atrium" rooms (where they do their work), when they will be a bit silly and antsy again.  That's okay too!  It isn't usually a setback, but rather "just one of those days."   Even as adults, we have days where it is harder to focus and concentrate. It is a skill we need to learn, and then continually practice!  The most important thing is that we are giving them this quiet time to develop their concentration and focus. 

Next week, we will cover more grace and courtesy, and also learn how to use the rugs and trays that are available for our individual work.

Here are a few photos from this week:

Practicing "walking on the line": 

In the prayer room: 

During snack time:

See everyone next Sunday!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Parents Guide: What to Expect at our First Two CGS Sessions

Hi everyone,

So excited to start our first session of the year tomorrow (Sunday, September 25, 2016)! 

As a reminder: tomorrow's session is for children new to the atrium; parents are also welcome to stay.

The following week, the children who were in the atrium last year will join us.

What to expect in these first two sessions? 

When you arrive, please go to the "check in" desk outside of room 1/2.  Find your child's name on the check-in sheet and initial the "check in" box.  Then, find your child's name tag and put it on him/her.

This is our usual check-in procedure, but the rest of the happenings aren't really "typical" of our year.  Your child (and you, if you opt to stay) will come into PAR rooms 1 & 2 and notice that there is basically almost nothing in them!  There will be two rugs on the floor, a line "tape" line around the floor, a few chairs in the front and back of the room, and a table in the back of the room with our snack materials.

We do this purposely.  We want to start them in an environment that won't immediately overwhelm and over-stimulate them.  Having all the special materials out at this point would be counterproductive to producing the quiet, meditative environment we strive for in the atrium.  So we keep it simple for the first few weeks.

Instead, we focus on learning basic "grace and courtesy" lessons, like how to behave in the atrium, how to talk in the atrium, how to interrupt an adult if we need help, how to say "please" and "thank you," and even how to introduce ourselves to others!  We will also learn how to unroll and roll the rugs that we place our materials on each week, and how to carry the trays that the various works will be on.

We will play a "silence" game, learning how to listen for the quiet sounds in the room, then also learn to walk on the blue tape line that surrounds the room.  This is practice for us, as we learn to process to our prayer corner each week.  Eventually, we will learn to carry things while processing, like our processional cross and battery-powered candles.

I will also introduce the children to our prayer corner, and we will learn the songs that we will sing each week in the prayer area.

So, here is the basic schedule for the day:

1) Parents and children arrive and check in outside rooms 1 & 2
2) Children are greeted and taken into rooms 1 & 2, and encouraged to find a place to sit on the rug. (Parents are welcome to come into the room and stay as long as they want, or until their child is comfortable)
3) We will sing songs while we wait for everyone to arrive
4) We will learn how to introduce ourselves, and each person will take a moment to introduce himself/herself
5) We will play the silence game
6) We will practice some other grace and courtesy lessons
7) We will practice walking on the line
8) If time, we will go to the prayer room (across the hall) this first week.
9) We will learn our two prayer corner songs
10) We will come back into the room for snack (Goldfish crackers)
11) Mass is over, and parents arrive to pick up children

The pick up procedure:  Go to the check in table, and find your child's name on the poster board.  It is written on an index card and stored in a clear plastic pocket.  Pull one of the cards with your child's name (leave the other card in the pocket.)  Sign out your child on the check in/check out sheet, then come to door 2 and a catechist or junior helper will meet you, take the card, and bring your child to the door.

This all sounds very organized on paper, but it may be a bit chaotic these first few weeks, as we learn the routine and everyone gets to know each other! 

Please don't be concerned if your child cries or clings to you when you want to leave him/her; it is quite normal!  Again, you are welcome to stay.  Chances are, in a few weeks after they know everyone and are comfortable with the adults and children, there will be happiness and excitement about coming to the atrium!  But sometimes it might take a while, depending on your child's personality.  That's okay.  The Holy Spirit truly works in this program, and when your child is ready, s/he will embrace this quiet time with Our Lord.

Please let me know if you have any questions!  Can't wait to meet all of our new children tomorrow!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

New CGS year begins on September 25 and October 2!

Hi everyone,

The starting dates of this year's program have been set:

September 25 - for children who are new to the atrium and did not attend last year.
October 2 - for all children.  This will be the first session for those children who attended the program last year.

We're looking forward to seeing your children very soon!