As the Month of the Rosary, October is a great month to introduce and encourage children to pray the Rosary. Children may feel that the rosary can be a complex and overwhelming prayer. Through the eyes of a child they have to remember several prayers, learn what order to pray them in, how many times to pray them and sit through 15-20 minutes of repetitive prayer. For an elementary aged child this is a challenge. Here are some ten tips to help motivate and encourage a love of the rosary in your child or students life.
1. Purchase online or at your local Catholic bookstore a booklet with the words of the prayers used in the Rosary. If you are the creative type you can make your own.
2. Review the mechanics of praying the rosary; which prayers, when and how many times. You may also find an illustration of the rosary that points out the prayers to be helpful.
3. Explain why we pray the rosary. We have been asked by our Heavenly Mother herself to pray this prayer. Let them know that the purpose of the rosary is to meditate on the mysteries of Jesusí Life, Death and Resurrection so that we may draw closer to Him.
4. Before beginning the rosary explain to them that the rosary is a sacramental and deserves respect and reverence throughout the prayer.
5. When praying with multiple children plan a way for them to take turns reciting the prayers. This could be having each child pray a decade or in larger group settings turns can be taken saying a Hail Mary.
6. Use the beginning of each mystery as an opportunity to give an overview of that event. Remember, the rosary is the Gospel in the form of a prayer.
7. Do not rush. If a child has a question on a particular mystery, take the opportunity to use that as a teaching moment. Use this as a faith building experience.
8. Donít set your bar too high. When dealing with younger children and those just learning the rosary you may only be able to get through one decade. Thatís ok! Remember with younger children the goal is introduce them to a lifelong commitment of praying the rosary. Baby-steps will lead them to walking and eventually running.
9. Do not get overwhelmed. If things donít seem to go the way they should find an ending point. Pick the rosary back up the next day on that days mysteries and start anew.
10. Praying with children can be difficult. Pray for patience and guidance and invite the Holy Spirit to guide your through each prayer session.
Always remember, teaching kids to pray the rosary is about instilling in them a greater love of Jesus and a better understanding of his life. They will also grow in their devotion to Mary his mother and ours. It can be difficult at times when working with young children, but the rewards are eternal!