Among the many celebrations observed by the Catholic Church, Easter is one of the most anticipated occasions by children especially because of the Easter egg hunt. But before the Easter Sunday festivities, there's Holy Week. How do we make the younger members of the family understand what these solemn days are about?
Christian author Rachel Wojo on Faith Gateway says, “while we are no longer bound by the law to observe rituals, there is value in not only teaching our children Christian history, but also explaining the meaning of the observance of these Holy Days.”
Fe Bobadilla, a Filipina mother to Tyrone, 17, and Mira, 10, says, “Gradual teaching yan. Unti-unti kapag ang mga bata naisasama ng magulang sa simbahan, yan ang way nilang makilala ang Diyos.” She further shares that she encourages her children to read the Bible for them to absorb its context, take in what interest them and ask questions about stories they encounter, “hanggang sa mabuksan yung awareness nila about the life of Jesus.” It’s about allowing the curiousity of a child to approach you, and also letting them take in knowledge for themselves.
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Judith Alderete, a religious education college professor from St. Paul University Manila, shares that aside from the observances done during Lent, children are also encouraged to participate so that one day, they, too, would carry on the tradition in their own families.
How exactly are we able to bond and share this experience with our kids in our own creative, little ways?
1. Find time to read books/watch films related to the stories in the Bible. Other than the main focus of the occassion which is spotlighted on Jesus’s death on the cross, stories and/or shows which depict different themes from the Christian faith will sure capture the attention and interest of the little ones. There are animated shows such as the Super Book series, but you could also encourage children to watch age-appropriate films with an adult's guidance.
2. Change the routine. If your child's habit first thing in the morning is to pick up play with gadget, ask him to try and do other activities such as reading a book, or to lessen the time he spends watching television. This is a simple way to begin teaching children what a little ‘sacrifice’ means, especially during Holy Week. It is also to give time for family bonding or to do some activities together.
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3. Be creative. While Holy Week is traditionally known to be a period of stillness and reflection, you can be creative in your approach to explaining its meaning to your children. Do arts and crafts, play trivia or puzzle games related to the season. Aside from keeping your children active, they also learn something even while school is out.
4. Go out and explore while maintaining a sense of solemnity. Go with the whole family and do Visita Iglesia, an activity where one prays in different churches. The family could also visit galleries or museums (sometimes churches themselves have their own collections of historical displays) depicting paintings and/or sculptures of religious things, and at the same time parents may continue their storytelling while their children view these works.
5. Prepare the family for the Easter celebration. This doesn’t mean just browsing the internet for Easter events and parties, but also to let them approach you on the experience they had during the week. The family could attend the Easter vigil and then have a simple meal at home in preparation for Easter Sunday.