A few months ago, Sunshine started asking us if we could pray the rosary together. Since then, we’ve tried to make it a habit to do a family rosary together every night, even if we only make it through a decade on some nights. Here are some of the things that have helped us in teaching children to pray the rosary.
1. Listen to saint stories.
Just before Christmas, I bought the girls the entire Glory Stories series from Holy Heroes. We spend quite a bit of time in the truck and I was always looking for new listening materials. The girls loved the new stories. Many of the saints had a close relationship with Mary and talked about praying the rosary or asking Mary for help. In particular, the story of the children of Fatima mentions Mary’s request for everyone to pray the rosary.
2. Provide lots of rosaries.
The girls have gotten several rosaries as gifts and have always liked playing with them, though we try to explain that the rosaries aren’t necklaces. Recently, I was visiting a friend and noticed that she had a jar of rosaries on her coffee table, ready to grab for prayers. When I got home, I collected all of our rosaries and found a pretty cup to put them in, where the girls could grab them and choose which rosary they wanted to pray with.
3. Teach the mysteries of the rosary.
The girls have quickly learned the prayers to the rosary, as I did. However, I must confess I barely know the mysteries. Lately, I’ve been trying to learn the mysteries and explain to the girls that while we’re asking Mary to pray for us, we’re thinking about various events in Jesus’ life.
The Happy Saints Holy Rosary ebook has helped with this, as the girls can color a picture while we’re praying that mystery. The ebook also has large and small prayer cards and posters. I like how easy it is to print whichever posters or coloring sheets I want to use with the girls.
4. Pray the rosary with friends.
We’ve had various opportunities to pray the rosary with our friends. Last year we participate in a living rosary at Sunshine’s school. We’ve also prayed together at Catholic family camp or stayed for prayers before or after Mass. It’s good for the girls to see others following this devotion, especially when they see other kids their age praying the rosary.
5. Create a shrine.
Sunshine was recently given a small statue of Mary. My husband had already found a shelf for her room, and she decided to make it into a Mary shelf. She keeps her Mary statue, rosary and a candle there, along with a prayer card and a light she made at a church even.
In Lily’s room, we put up another shelf with another Mary statue (given to her several years ago) along with candles. Again, these are great visuals for the girls to look at when praying or just a daily reminder to stop and pray.
6. Develop your own devotion to Mary.
As a convert, one of my greatest reservations about joining the Church was what the Church teaches about Mary. This is completely foreign to most Protestant denominations and it has taken me a long time to overcome that prejudice. Becoming a mother, and particularly the stress I faced with Lily’s birth, helped me draw closer to Mary. Lately, several books we’ve read have also deepened my understanding of the Church’s devotion to Mary and how this can help me draw closer to Jesus.
If you’re looking for resources, I recommend Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn (a Catholic convert), 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration by Michael E. Gaitley (a very readable introduction to Marian consecration which uses the lives of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Mother Theresa and St. Pope John Paul II as examples), and Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living Our Lady’s Graces by Fr. Peter John Cameron (an excellent explanation of what the Church teaches about Mary and why it matters).
7. Make your own rosary.
Sunshine and I both enjoy doing crafts. We’ve made a couple rosaries and rosary bracelets. There’s something very meaningful about choosing the beads and medals for the rosary yourself, and then prayerfully stringing them together.
These rosaries can be as simple as pony beads on a string, or as complicated as birthstones and gold medals. Rosary bracelets are also an easy way to start (and a good craft to make as part of a church group or club).
Do you pray the rosary as a family? What things have helped you with teaching children to pray the rosary?
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What a great blog post. I am a convert too. My 5 children pray the rosary daily. We have tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, for years, but started regularly when my eldest were 4. Here’s what works for us:
1. We pray the Rosary in the morning, before beginning homeschooling. At night there are too many activities, distractions and sometimes just plain human weakness that prevents us from praying it. Along with our daily offering and morning prayers, the Rosary sets everyone’s minds up for a productive school day. If we know my husband will be home, we will pray together on the weekend.
2. We ask the children to offer their decade up for a private or public intention. This helps them focus their attention. I asked “what mystery comes next” occasionally and after 3 months they had the mysteries memorized. When anyone balks at saying the Rosary, I am quick to point out it’s just 15-20 minutes of our entire day that we offer to Mary and Jesus. A very small sacrifice!
3. We have a family altar where we pray together and one in the boys and girls bedrooms. I believe religious art and crucifixes are a reminder of our Faith and don’t just belong in a church. If God, knowing, loving and serving Him, is the purpose of our life, shouldn’t our choice of home adornment reflect this priority?
4. Praying with littles is not easy, but slowly and with great patience on the part of the entire family, the 2 two-year olds are learning what is acceptable behavior during Rosary time. What graces must be received by witnessing your entire family praying to Our Lady daily. In this I take comfort when it seems so much easier to pray when they are in bed. Who am I to deny them this?
Great tips, Nadine! Thanks so much for sharing them! 🙂