Atrium? Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Atrium at Corpus Christi Catholic School
The kindergarten and first grade classes have been attending Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes since September! Read all about the good work that has been going on in the Atrium:
What is the Atrium?
The atrium is a prepared environment based on Montessori concepts to facilitate independent learning by the child. The Catechesis of the Good Shephard (CGS) program will help develop the children’s relationship with God and help them become an active participant in the liturgy and communal life of the church. The atrium is a very quiet and meditative environment as the children listen to presentations, work independently, and participate in group and/or individual prayer.
Some of the earliest work in the atrium consists of what is called practical life work. There are many practical life works that assist children in gaining control of their body movements and assist in developing care of self, the environment, and others. This work is often repetitive- to help the child slow down his/her movements and to enter a more thoughtful and meditative awareness. This type of work prepares the child for works later that may be more complex or abstract.
Some examples of practical life work include: pouring, spooning, open and closing, flower arranging, metal polishing, sweeping/dusting, watering plants, squeezing.
Once the children have settled into the atrium and are able work independently, they will begin to listen to presentations given by the catechist. Some of the early presentations that the kindergarten and first graders have already heard are Liturgical colors of the year using the chasubles (the outer garment worn by the priest), Altar 1 (introducing the model altar and the names of some of things we see on the altar during mass), and biblical geography (using globe with Israel marked in red and relief map of the Land of Israel with 3 major cities marked).
During the time of Advent, the children help to prepare the prayer table with the purple cloth, advent wreath and candles, and evergreen boughs. The catechist will share two prophecies from the sacred scriptures (Isaiah 9:1, Isaiah 9:5). The children will also be presented on The Nativity of Jesus. This year we will share the scripture of The Annunciation of Mary and Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth using figures/dioramas and reading from the Bible.
The children can do work based on the presentations such as tracing, pasting, drawing/writing, and working with the materials.
The children have spent time in the Atrium, around the prayer table during each session to pray. The table is usually covered with a cloth in the color of the liturgical season, a Bible on a Bible stand, candle, prayer card and stand, and a statue of the Good Shepherd, Holy Family, or Mary. We read the prayer card, do communal prayer, offer intentions either verbally or silently, and sing a song. The children may also visit the prayer table at any time while in the atrium to pray and meditate quietly.
Preparing and Maintaining the Atrium
This year the Atrium at Corpus Christi is set up for Level One Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Level One is intended for children ages 3-6. Our goal is to expand the atrium to level two next year which serves children ages 6-9.
As part of the program, the materials of CGS are to be made by the catechists and members of the community it serves. This enables the adults to enter more deeply into the themes, to slow down the adult’s pace to the rhythm of the children, and to be more attentive to the Holy Spirit- to experience the integration of hand, mind, and heart.
Many volunteers have already graciously donated their time and materials to the atrium; however, the need is continuous. CCCS will be putting together a box filled with atrium needs such as cutting, copying, special projects. If you have some spare time, be sure to check it out. It will be placed in the main office for your convenience.
There are also many costs associated with setting up and maintaining the materials in the atrium. It is our hope that you can participate in the school’s Advent Atrium Drive to help with some of these costs.
If you would like to visit the atrium, it will be open during the Learning Showcase held during Catholic Schools Week on January 31st.
Please contact Amy Plackowski with any questions or to find out how you can get involved in this wonderful program!