- Category: FAQ
Benefits For the child:
- The Child's spiritual formation is nurtured during the "sensitive period" of development.
- The child's participation in the Divine Liturgy becomes richer and deeper.
- The effects of early faith experience will last a lifetime.
How Does This Ministry Serve Our Children?
Fostering the spiritual formation of Orthodox children means beginning as early as possible. At each step of the developmental journey, children are in a spiritual process of discovering God’s love. That relationship flourishes when experience is supplemented with both activity and structured curricula, calling for response in an environment that brings our faith right into their hands.
The classroom, called the Children's Room, is a specially prepared environment designed to satisfy the child's natural inclination to movement and to spirituality by providing hands-on biblical and liturgical activity. Once demonstrated by the teacher, the children are free to repeat each activity, to retell the Bible stories while manipulating the pieces, and to proceed to other connected activity for carefully selected biblical stories, Orthodox hymns, prayers, and liturgical traditions.
The program is designed to address a most sensitive time for spiritual formation, ages three to six, providing an authentic Orthodox experience where the spiritual child is honored, nurtured, and given a place for reflection and expression of faith. When movement and mental activity are combined, the child is able to give himself totally to the present moment, resulting in enhanced concentration. The body, mind, and heart of the young child, act in unison as they have not yet reached the age of reason and division among their parts. Mental, spiritual, and physical developments are interconnected and interdependent. Children hear the Word of God and experience worship with their whole beings. The hearts of Children are naturally able to realize God. The Children’s Room supports the child’s discovery of the presence of God.
As one OCSF graduate states, “Sharing this with the children sometimes feels like all I'm doing is giving them language for what they already know, like all I did was create a place for them to express it. They get the opportunity to actively engage with the Faith and with Christ, while I get the opportunity to observe the simple and natural way in which they do so. We help each other love God, the Church He gave us, and one another in the Body of Christ, a little bit more every time we're together.”
Upon going into church and seeing that which has become familiar, children become most at home in the House of God. They build awareness of the role the priest, that of his vestments, even liturgical items and gestures, church hymns, biblical stories and feast days. It is so beautiful to observe children as they spontaneously recall and name of the Archangel Gabriel and the Holy Theotokos upon viewing an icon of the Evangelismos. They remember the story because it was read to them from the Holy Bible and while retelling the story, they were able to manipulate the icon figures provided in the Children’s Room.
Impressions received between birth and age six can be life lasting. No other language is learned as well or as easily as the mother tongue, because it has been learned during the sensitive period of language formation. Faith experienced during the sensitive period of spiritual formation can be forever. The child before six years of age is in a unique formation period. It is the role of the adult to provide the environment that nurtures the youngest members of our Church.