Introducing Prayer to Your Little Ones from Birth to Age 5

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268407_prayerHow Catholic was your home growing up?  I only remember saying prayers before bed, for instance, when I spent the night at my grandmother’s house and grace was reserved for holidays (which were usually at that same grandmother’s house!).  My parents were kind of lukewarm growing up, attending Mass and getting the sacraments up until my Confirmation and then, well, that was it.  I don’t even think we went to Mass much after that.   After falling away and then coming back when we were considering starting our family, I really wanted better for them than I had.

Here is the tentative schedule that I have used when introducing my little ones to prayer.  The ages are only approximate and are GREATLY dependent on how well they can communicate and what their interest and attention is.   I will also say that I have 2 girls.  I have heard boys are different; I don’t really know since I don’t have any.   All that just to say that isn’t meant to be a hard and fast schedule, but it is what seems to work well for us.  If you are wondering how and when to start introducing your children to prayer, this may be helpful for you.

Age 1.5

  • Help them make the Sign of the Cross whenever the rest of family is doing it (Mass, Grace, Family Rosary, etc.)

Age 2

Age 3

Age 3.5

Age 4

  • Our Father (at bedtime)
  • Simple Morning Offering
    • Oh Jesus, I give you today.  All that I think and do and say.

Age 4.5

Age 5

  • The Angelus (with the morning offering)

If your children are inclined to move quicker or slower, feel free to move ahead, slow down, or add prayers as desired.   I know that when children were young, on those days where they were reluctant, grumpy, sick, etc. and were unable (or unwilling) to say the words after, I said them for them (or finished them) at bedtime.  After time, they became accustomed to the fact that we say prayers before bed.  Period.  Only you can be the judge of whether to push it that day, but I would try not to make it a punishment or force it if they aren’t ready.

Above all, be consistent and make it a part of your family’s culture!

Did I miss any of your favorite prayers for little ones?

Copyright 2013 Jen Steed

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6 Comments

  1. Good points Jen. Many parents don’t realize that even babies really do respond to and even participate in family prayer. Some of the parents in our program (Making Music Praying Twice) have shared that having prayerful songs has opened up the potential to praying together with young ones. Especially for families that didn’t grow up in a prayerful home, this was a great help for bedtime prayers and more. And you can’t be to young. One mother in my class used to say Grace before nursing!

    • Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker on

      Kate,

      I apologize. I thought I had already responded but it must not have “taken.”

      We have MMPT and while right now we only use it as background & music enrichment in winter, I’d like to use it more as my children get a little older.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Loom into the program “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd” a montessori based approach to Catechesis starting at age 3. It’s an amazing program with deep insights into Catholisism.

  3. Kathleen Anderson on

    Hi, Jen ~ I am writing a booklet on a program I designed that uses Scripture Prayer with infants with the purpose of raising awareness of the personal relationship with God among all in the family, each as individuals and as a “family prayer team.” This method of prayer begins with verses on God’s love. Using direct scripture passages slightly adjusted to form prayers (but not to change meaning) is a powerful tool to help increase awareness of God’s presence in daily life. If you are interested in a pdf of the section of bible prayers with brief explanation and voluntary request for testimonials (which will be for the expanded book manuscript) please email me ~ I am combining theology with the 0-5 developmental sciences and hope to entice a publisher with this project.

    • Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker on

      Kathleen,

      Thank you for the info! I am due just about any day now, but I’m saving the comment from you email in my file to review in the fall.

      Thanks again for commenting!

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