This month of Mary, we are reminded of the importance and power of praying the rosary. Children may often feel overwhelmed with the complexity of praying the rosary since it is made up of many prayers. Not only do they need to remember several prayers but also what order to pray, how many times and have a decent attention span. That might seem like a lot to ask of elementary age children or younger. However, through teaching my own children, I have realized that repetition, explanation and patience are the key.
In my third grade religious education class, our lesson calls for us to teach the children about the rosary. Rather than simply explaining the rosary to my third grade class, we take the time to pray the rosary together as a class. Through trial and error, I’ve come up with 8 tips to help you teach praying the rosary to kids in a religious education class setting.
1. Prepare a handout with the words of the prayers they will need. Even if they know the prayers, it is helpful for them to see the words in front of them in the beginning.
2. Go over the mechanics of praying the rosary; which prayers, when and how many times. I also use a handout with a diagram of the rosary with prayers listed.
3. Explain that we pray the rosary at the urging of our Heavenly Mother and that our purpose is to meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection. It can be helpful to have a book with the pictures and description of the scripture to pray with each decade.
4. Before handing out the rosaries, instruct them in the proper respect and reverence we show toward any sacramental, especially a rosary. Do not expect them to know this. I missed this step the first time and quickly realized how important is can be with young kids.
5. Devise a way for the children to take turns reciting the prayers: go around the room with each prayer for a different child, or have one child recite all 10 Hail Mary’s in a row. Don’t be afraid to change it up mid-stream if it isn’t working for the class.
6. Take it slow. Answer questions, offer explanations as needed. Some of the kids will be very familiar with the prayers and the rosary and for others, this might be their first real introduction.
7. Only pray as much or as little as works for your class and age. My first time teaching the prayer, I anticipated only praying through one decade, but the class was doing well and paying attention so we kept going and completed the prayer.
8. Pray for patience and guidance and invite the Holy Spirit to guide your instruction.
Just remember, teaching kids to pray the rosary is about inspiring them with your love of Jesus and for his mother, Mary. Trust in God, ask for His guidance, be patient, and pray.
How do you teach kids to pray the rosary? What tips would you add?