The Catholic family is considered the “domestic Church” in which the parents serve as the first and primary catechists. Parents serve as the primary educators of their children when it comes to the formation of faith, even when their children are enrolled in faith formation classes or programs. One of the components of faith is knowledge, at the foundation of Catholic identity and lived faith. Building on this knowledge at home, in conjunction with learning through a traditional catechetical program, cements family faith understanding and forges connections between the home and the school or parish.
But what should families know about their faith? What faith knowledge is critical at what age? These are questions families might ask about building faith at home. Here are four simple ways that parents can help their children build faith knowledge in the home, in addition to the many ways they offer an education in faith as the primary catechists.
Children’s faith formation programs will include a scope and sequence that shows the faith knowledge that children are learning at a particular age and grade. Dedicated family connections within these programs are an essential link between school and home that can let parents know what topics their children are learning about in religious education, and provide suggestions for conversations, activities, and prayers to support and deepen this learning at home. Utilizing these connections is a great and simple way for parents to gauge what their children are learning and understand about the faith and to build on it. Families should receive and be encouraged to use these connections to cement the link between faith formation at school or in the parish and at home.
Encouraging children to regularly “teach” family members will not only give parents a picture of their child’s faith knowledge but will present a wonderful opportunity for family discussion...
For more than fifty years, the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has offered assessments that provide reports that can then strengthen religious education and catechetical formation programs by sharing information about students’ faith knowledge. NCEA’s Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education (ACRE test) is one of the evaluations, including items that assess knowledge and items that assess beliefs, attitudes, practices, and perceptions. This assessment and others are implemented nationally or at the diocesan level to see where students are in their faith knowledge and can provide a picture to dioceses and schools that can also support families in formation efforts.
Family faith formation should be natural, fun, and engaging. There are many ways to integrate catechetical and liturgical resources at home to build on and deepen faith knowledge. Families can access religious education resources by topic or season, inspiring conversations, prayer and reflection, crafts, and celebrations at home that fit into the usual rhythms and rituals of Catholic family life at home.
In the downloadable FaithFULL Families Summer Kit, you will find formation resources powered by the new Full Access for We Believe and We Live Our Faith program in English, and Creemos in Spanish, which matches disciples to the right lessons to grow and live out their Catholic faith. Each page of the kit includes a short family quiz inspired by national assessments to help assess their faith knowledge on a few topics. Families can then access resources that will help them build faith around these topics, and plan together to learn more!
Building family faith at home can be supported through connections to school and parish religious education programs, opportunities for child-led faith discussions, a picture of student progress using traditional assessments, and access to simple and engaging religious education resources. With these structures in place, strong connections among families, schools, and parishes will help take students from foundational faith knowledge to deep understanding, strong Catholic identity, and lived discipleship.