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2014-10-08: K-1 Church School Introduction and Update

posted Jan 25, 2015, 1:17 PM by St. Nicholas Church School Ann Arbor Michigan   [ updated Apr 5, 2015, 3:07 PM ]
Dear Parents of Kindergarteners and 1st Graders,

We are very excited to be teaching Church School again this year and are looking forward to a great and fun year with your children!  We wanted to send this email to give you an idea of how we are going to run the class.  It will be similar to last year but we will be focusing more on what happens during the Divine Liturgy during church and explaining the importance of the various parts of the service.

We will review the Gospel for that Sunday with the children so it is very important to try to get the children to church so they can hear the Gospel and Father’s sermon.  We know that some of the Gospels may be too complex for this age but we will try to focus on the simple ideas and in some cases just focus on a word, for example: forgiveness, love, etc.

The structure of the class will be:
  • Attendance/Coloring
  • Cross/Lord's Prayer
  • Sing Hymn
  • Learn parts of the Divine Liturgy and what happens in church and/or review the basic idea of Gospel and read a story from lesson/discussion
  • Project or Activity

We have also come up with a few rules that we will be following in the classroom and church:
  1. Raise your hand when you want to say something or ask a question.
  2. Respect for those around you and their space.
  3. Respect for the Church- no running, jumping on furniture, standing on chairs, drawing on walls or tables, etc.
  4. Respect for Father Nick
  5. Cleaning up after ourselves.
  6. No yelling, screaming, hitting, etc.
With regard to the above rules, please reinforce these at home.  We only have a limited time to teach the children and do the activities.  And we have many children registered for this class so we want to make the most of the time we have together.

We are also going to try to send bi-weekly emails that will briefly explain what was taught in class so you can ask the kids specific questions to review what they learned.
To date we have covered the following:

Lesson1:  We talked about the cross and why it is special.  We have learned which three fingers to use when making the sign of the cross and what they mean, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And we learned that the other two fingers represent that Jesus was both Man and God.  We will continue to review this each Sunday.   We also talked with the children about the meaning of the Cross and why we make the sign of the cross.  It is a way of saying a short prayer and saying  ‘We love you Jesus’.  We worked on a tissue paper project where the kids decorated their crosses with different colored tissue paper.

Lesson 2:  We discussed when we as Orthodox Christians make our cross, when we kiss an icon, before and after Communion, etc.  The kids can come to the rug to discuss what we know about how and why early Christians began to make the sign of the cross. We can think of the Trinity when we make the cross; we can think of loving God with our whole mind, heart, and strength when we make our cross; and we can use it to make a small prayer any time we want.

Lesson 3: For this lesson we discussed prayer and why we pray and when we can do this.
We go to Church to pray to God.  Prayer is talking with God and loving God.  We pray and talk with God at church, home, school, play, whenever.  We pray for ourselves ("Thank you for....; Please help.....; I'm sorry for.....) We pray for others (mom, dad, grandparents, Godparents, friends/family who are sick/lonely/hurt, people everywhere).  We also read a story that specifically talked about the different reasons we can pray:  to praise God, to ask God to forgive us, to thank God, to ask God for help, to ask God for guidance, to ask God for things we need, to talk to God about other people and their problems-for friends, enemies, loved ones, people you don't know, other Christians, those who don't know God
**Overall message: you can pray about anything, anywhere, anytime.

Lesson 4:  For this lesson we focused on “Do unto others as you would have done unto you."  We played a basketball game with the children and asked them questions about how they would act in certain situations and what would Jesus want us to do.  For example:  what should we do if someone falls on the playground? What if there is a new student in class? What would we like others to do to us in these situations? We also discussed the importance of candles in the Greek Orthodox Church and we talked about how the light symbolizes Jesus’ love for us.  We also discussed when we light candles, in the narthex, during the Divine Liturgy, Baptisms, Weddings, etc.
 
The curriculum for the Kindergarteners and 1st Graders: this is what they are expected to know by the end of the school year.

We are starting the Thanksgiving Food Drive to help SOS Community Services :
(see below for more information about SOS).
Each Church School student should please donate one item based on their Grade as shown below: 
Preschool: 1 can of Corn
K–1st Grade: 1 box of Potato Flakes 
2nd–3rd Grade: 1 can of Green Beans 
4th–5th Grade: 1 box/bag of Stuffing 
6th–7th Grade: 1 can of Cranberry Sauce
8th–9th Grade: 1 can of Mixed Fruit
10th–12th Grade: 1 small box/bag of Rice. 

A collection box with a sample food item has been placed in each classroom. All donated food items are due no later than the Sunday before Thanksgiving: November 16, 2014 Please try to bring your donated food item as early as possible. 
SOS Community Services (www.soscs.org)

It has been a pleasure to teach your children so far this year and we are looking forward to a great school year.  Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
Have a Blessed week and we look forward to seeing you and your children on Sunday!

Maria Hochendoner
Andrea McRae, DVM
Margarita Bekiares
Dr. Karen Kolias