1. We enter and leave a space quietly: even if that space is in a hall, a classroom or even over the speaker, there must be an expectation that children treat the time respectfully. Often when students enter and leave calmly, it adds to the sense of ritual.
2. Focus on an object: it is very hard for children to close their eyes during prayer. It feels like a long time frame for some little people and it is important that we help them out. Lighting a candle and reminding them that Jesus is here is a great focus point. It also begins to support children in calming their bodies ready for prayer.
3. Expect participation: participation in a prayer service can vary. It could be singing, listening or completing jobs. This is an important goal as children learn that it is not just entering a space and sitting quietly. Part of prayer is being present and engaged.
4. Expect responses in an appropriate clear voice: This is one of my favourite goals that I like to push. Often in prayer, responses can be mumbled or quiet. Students need to be taught that this doesn't enhance the prayer experience. When children are expected to respond in a firm voice at an appropriate volume, the tone of the prayer session often changes.
5. Students are responsible for the prayer space: this is a shared community space. It is beneficial to guide the children towards taking responsibility for the space.
6. Stay in one spot and keep your hands and feet to yourself: an obvious one but there is nothing worse than a beautiful prayer session changed because children are getting up or touching things around them. This is one of the goals that I think is non negotiable.
7. Think about what is being said: in order to do this, students often need prompting questions or instructions during a prayer service. I like this goal because it moves children towards engaging in prayer. A quick way to check if children are thinking during a prayer session is simply to pose questions after and check to see what they have understood. Over the years, I have been surprised by the deep insight or lack of insight.
Prayer is an important time. Children don't just know how to pray. They need to be shown, motivated and taught. I find that setting observable and measurable goals is one way to depth a prayer session. To help, I will attach a link to the ones of the posters that we use in the classroom. #prayergoals #religion #catholicschool #twocreativeteachers