by Catherine Maresca
“We have a unique opportunity to shepherd parents when their children are toddlers. This the period in the church when we see parents most engaged and truly seeking the help we, as catechists in the Montessori atrium, with our knowledge of the developmental needs and religious capacities of very young children, are trusted and very well positioned to provide,” says Davette Himes, who leads our annual Parent Toddler Course.
She recognizes, and research confirms, that the greatest influence on children’s faith in these tender years are their parents. And she remembers herself, as a young mother, searching for a church that would welcome her children and support her desire to nurture their faith.
“You have only a moment, within minutes, when a parent comes through the door with their toddler searching for the right church to satisfy them that is the right place for a family with a toddler.” In her own parish, the community welcomes these families and is happy to make catechists aware of these visitors, often leading them to the atrium where they can glimpse the possibilities for formation from the start of their child’s life in the church.
The Parent Toddler program is an outreach of her parish. When not suspended by the pandemic it meets on weekdays with a maximum of ten toddlers with a parent, grandparent or other caregiver. Within the parent toddler Montessori atrium, she models work with the child, observation, provides access to a library for both parents and toddlers, offers home visits and provides many resources to promote creating a faith environment for parents and children at home.
While there, parents have time for personal prayer, time to observe, time to journal and time to be fully present and to support their children. Kept small by design, a natural outgrowth of this group time is interaction with other parents and newfound friendships and lasting relationships with those also on a journey of nurturing the faith and spirituality of children from the start. The toddler atrium is a space of celebration and joy modeled on the church year where grandparents, caregivers and those at the center of nurture of the child are welcomed.
The CCTheo Parent Toddler Course is offered online this year from July 25- August 5. The course is for trained 3-6 catechists, allowing Davette to focus on how the essential announcements of our faith in the 3-6 atrium can be adapted for toddlers at home.
Please join us! Parents, grandparents, catechists, and clergy – all are welcome to join Davette in serving toddlers and their parents in these early years of sitting in the lap of God, savoring the love and life and light of Christ.