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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: June

This section for the month of June covers the following areas:

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH: the Sign of the Cross GOD BLESS THE BABY: Signing the Cross over the baby. VISITS TO CHURCH: Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Sacred Heart. LESSON OF LOVE THINGS TO DO: homemade prayer book, Home Altar with Sacred Heart, Scrapbook add picture of Sacred Heart. PEDAGOGY: Dealing with Tantrums VIRTUE FOR PARENTS: quiet meditation BOOK FOR THE MONTH: The Child on His Knees HYMNS FOR THE MONTH: To Jesus' Heart All Burning, Jesus My Lord, My God, My All, O Jesus Christ, Remember, O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo

DIRECTIONS

REMINDER FOR THE YEAR We learn to pray by praying.

REVIEW Prayers to be said daily:—

Morning Offering. Good-night prayers. Grace at meals. Hail Mary—both parts. Home-made morning and night prayers.
PRACTICE OF THE MONTH—SIGN OF THE CROSS We shall not learn any new prayers this month, but will give everybody a chance to catch up.

The making of the Sign of the Cross, however, we must attend to carefully. We have not mentioned this before, thinking it just as well to leave it to the mothers to observe whether the little ones have imitated them in blessing themselves.

The only easy way to teach the Sign of the Cross is to have the baby imitate you. If you face him, he will go wrong. Stand alongside of him, a little slanting, so that he can watch your hand when it moves to the left shoulder.

In the name of the Father (right hand to forehead) and of the Son (right hand to chest) and of the Holy (right hand to left shoulder) Ghost (right hand to right shoulder) Amen. (both hands clasped).

GOD BLESS THE BABY In the February section we spoke of the custom of mothers who make the Sign of the Cross over the baby in the crib and say "God bless the baby." Thus early is the idea of the cross associated with God and His blessing.

The Trinity is obviously too difficult to attempt to explain to children of three. If they ask questions, a word or so will suffice.

"God in Heaven,—the Son, Jesus Who came on earth,—and the Holy Ghost, the name of His Spirit of Love."

NEWS FROM OTHER PARENTS The report of one Discussion Group says: "All the parents felt that emphasis must be placed on love. Once the child feels the love of God in his own life, and sees the necessity of loving others in order to keep God's love, many things can be accomplished. . . .

"It is most important that God be made a part of the child's life at an early age. The child should understand that God is a Friend to Whom he can turn at any time, and that prayer is conversation with this Friend. If in addition to speaking, the child also cultivates the habit of listening carefully, he may find that the conversation is not one-sided and that he often hears an answer in his heart."

VISITS TO CHURCH Corpus Christi usually comes in June (occasionally in May). No child should miss the procession; and parents should try to have the little ones march in it as young as possible. The idea of marching with Jesus is very appealing.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart comes on the ninth day after Corpus Christi. Plan to make a visit. Even with tiny children, try to convey the idea that dear Jesus is there on the altar. Say several times, "Dear Jesus, I love You. I love You with all my heart." Do not ask for anything; just keep expressing love.

LESSON OF LOVE In this beautiful month, parents should try, on every one of the thirty days, to do something to bring out the lesson of love. A book of Bible stories will give plenty of ideas. God loves us every minute and we should love Him every minute by loving our friends. Once when a little girl—the Ruler's daughter—was sick and died, our Lord brought her to life again, because He loved her mother and father and they loved Him.

Let the smallest child perform an act of kindness for love. Even the baby can give crumbs to the birdies, or throw grain to the chickens, or give milk to the kitten. And in the case of the four and five year olds, if you tell them to look for chances of doing good things for love, they will find them.

THINGS TO DO

Home-made Prayer Book
This is the month of love, the love of the Heart of Jesus for us. Perhaps, if you did not start the "Love and Thanksgiving Prayer Book" in April, you will do so this month. It is a big step forward in the spiritual life, when you form in the child the habit of turning to God with loving thank for all good things.

Write in the home-made prayer book (a notebook) in large letters: "Thank You, dear Jesus, for _____." "I love You, dear Jesus." Let the child choose what he loves best. He will probably say "Mother." A snapshot of Mother might then be pasted on the opposite page. It is good to have mother and father, too, in the prayer book and thus associated in the child's mind with God.

Altar
Replace the picture of our Lady on the altar by a picture of our Lord alone. Let the child bring Him a flower if you can. Add a little red decoration, perhaps a red cloth to hang across the front of the altar. Children of four or five can cut out paper flowers to bring to Jesus.

Scrapbook
Emphasize daily the things to show love. Of course, add a picture of our Lord showing the Sacred Heart, to the scrapbook.

PEDAGOGY—DEALING WITH TANTRUMS Some parents feel that they are so bothered by their children's crying and tantrums that they cannot get around to starting the good things recommended in these pages. The first thing to do is to get the child into proper physical and mental condition.

(There are two booklets on child care which contain the essentials about food, sleep and general physical habits. See footnote one on the following page.) If your child does not live a regular life and eat and sleep properly, he will probably cry and nag and cause much trouble and have tantrums.

But if he has been well trained in the fundamentals of proper living, and yet has a bad habit of tantrums, you have to tackle the problem directly, at once.

Rules
Bear in mind the following:
  1. A little child kicks and screams because he thinks,—or perhaps because he knows from experience,—that in order to avoid a scene you will give in to him and let him have what he wants. You must prove to him that this is a mistaken idea of his. You are not going to give in.
  2. Do not get angry. Do not slap.
  3. Say firmly, "No; when you stop screaming I will speak to you." Then leave the child alone in a safe room. Or, if he must be in the room with you, do not notice him. Keep busy with something or other.
  4. After a while, say quietly, "Little Jesus does not like screaming and kicking. He loves you and He does not want you to do that."
  5. Stop. Keep quiet. Be patient.
  6. If the child slows down at times, waits to see if you will give in, and then starts up again, do not worry. He is showing that he begins to understand. Ignore him. Finally he will yield. He may fall asleep.
  7. Two or three performances like this will end the bad habit and establish a good one.
  8. Remember: Be gentle; but be firm and consistent. Remain very calm and silent.
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS Parents might make a special effort to take five minutes off occasionally in which to sit down quietly and do nothing at all but relax, thinking how good God is and sending up to Him a wordless prayer of love.

BOOK FOR THE MONTH The Child on His Knees2 is a collection of prayers in rhyme, expressing the sentiments of very young children. They were made for her children by one mother, a mother who happened to be gifted as a poet. She generously shares them with all other mothers and children.

HYMNS FOR THE MONTH To Jesus' Heart All Burning3 is an appropriate song this month. For Corpus Christi, let us sing Jesus My Lord, My God, My All3 and O Jesus Christ, Remember.3

The Benediction hymns, O Salutaris Hostia3 and Tantum Ergo3 ought to be part of the repertory of every family. Father, mother, aunt, or someone else should learn them and sing them at prayers before the June altar.


1 Infant Care and A Child From One to Six can be obtained from: Children's Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. [Editor's Note: There are many pamphlets and books available with updated information (these were from the 1930s) on how to physically raise children. --JGM]

2 The Child on His Knees, by Mary Dixon Thayer. New York: The Macmillan Co.

3 The St. Gregory Hymnal, Singers' Edition. Nos. 61, 53, 55, 226a, 242a. Philadelphia: The St. Gregory Guild. [Editor's Note: This is now available in two editions. GIA Publications, www.giamusic.com, St. Gregory Hymnal and Catholic Choir Book Compiled by C. T. Andrews, 1979 abridged edition of the original collection edited by N. A. Montani. For 2 and 4 Voice Choirs. Paperback G-2291 8.50, Paperback Spiral bound G-2291-S 9.50. Also, reprint of the original by The Neumann Press, RR2 Box 30, Long Prairie, MN 56347, 800-746-2521, www.neumannpress. for $38.00. --JGM]

Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938

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