Knowledge cannot be accumulated in a void. In order for the things we hear about and read to stick, we need to make connections. We need to integrate facts with other facts. Sometimes, we need to experience the information in different ways. Only then can we make it our own and absorb it into ourselves as something to draw on again and again for years to come.
This concept has been important to me as I have planned homeschool curricula for the past two years, but it is especially vital for me when it comes to religion.
I am not interested in filling my daughter up with a bunch of facts about the faith, valuable though each of those bits of information may be. I want her to absorb them, to integrate them, to see each year—each day!—more and more of our great God, to cherish His love for her, and learn how to love Him well in return.
I plan our curriculum with this idea in mind. I ask myself a few questions: What do I want my child to walk away with this year? How do I want to see her grow in faith? How does she need to grow in her love and knowledge of God?
This year in our homeschool religion class, we are focusing on the person of God and His relationship to Man. So far, we have covered who God is, the persons of the Holy Trinity, the story of Creation, the Fall, and the concepts of original and actual sin. The Baltimore Catechism is a wonderful resource for teaching concepts like these to little ones.
But, I didn’t want to rely only on rote memorization. We are also learning prayers and experiencing them by praying together, seeking answers to curious questions, creating art, getting to know Christ in the Mass, memorizing Scripture, singing hymns, and even…
There’s a story behind this, of course. And it goes like this.
“…the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
We use flour to make gingerbread men, the way God formed Adam from the dust of the earth. The way we are all dust. To dust we shall return.
We mix and roll the dough with great care. We take pride in setting each decoration in place.
We watch over them with great care.
Some people may think our gingerbread men look funny, but we think they are wonderful. Each one is a little different, but we enjoy them equally, and they are equally delicious.
God made each one of us to be unique, but we are all made from the same “dough.” Each human being has inherent dignity and worth, just as each gingerbread man is inherently fragrant spicy-sweet regardless of the toppings we use.
Our God loves us. He made us. And, as they say, God doesn’t make mistakes.