Letter to CCD Parents

Dear Parents, 

Thank you for making the commitment to your child's religious education.

The 1st grade Faith Formation class will be laying a basic foundation and will be preparing the children for the 2nd grade class, which is the class that culminates with the children making First Communion. I am traditional, conservative, and will not stray from the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, which can be read at the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). I will use a variety of props, and methods, and activities to try to teach that message.

Please know that I will NOT present or say anything to your child that would not pass muster of the USCCB. There will be no "secrets" in the class. No information will be withheld from parents. If your child should say something in class that I suspect you would want to hear, I will share that with you.

Understanding what is happening at Mass can be difficult for a child. There is an excellent video at
Formed.org (an online site that Fr. Giese recommends). You can find it by signing in at Formed (for free). It is a 30-minute video. It is excellent. Please watch this video with your child:
The Mass: A Life-Giving Prayer

The Archdiocese has specific religious education goals for 1st graders. You can find a synopsis of those goals at the class web page, which can be found here:

The children will learn five prayers: Sign of the Cross, The Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Grace Before Meals. There are about two dozen words that the children will learn over the year. They will learn the Creation Story, the story of Noah, the birth of Jesus, and the death and resurrection of Jesus. They will learn about some saints.

I'll be using the textbook, with supplementation from other sources. At the class web page, you can see the class calendar, with tentative information for each class session.

In addition to the textbook, I will use videos produced by a company called “Adventure Catechism.” Each video lasts about seven minutes, and children enjoy them.

There will be typical coloring sheets, a few craft projects, and planting crocus bulbs at the church. When Advent starts, we shall begin reading a children’s bulletin at each class. Each bulletin, of course, is based on the Gospel reading from the previous Sunday; often, the bulletin will be one I prepare based on the children's reading level. As the year progresses, art will be added to the class — art by old masters who portrayed various Gospel stories in art. Each child learns differently, and the intent is to offer the message in many forms, with the hope that Jesus' message will reach each child in one way or another.

The textbook includes a “featured saint” in most of the lessons. However, the information in the textbook is so scant that it tells the children nothing. When your child is Confirmed (8th grade), your child will select a saint’s name. Thus, over the next years, your child will need to acquire some familiarity with saints and their stories. My choice for teaching about saints is to go outside the textbook: I have written short biographies for the saints, and I have found coloring sheets for them. Most weeks your child will come home with two sheets of paper, “homework” of a sort. Please take the time to read the short saint’s story to your child, and encourage your child to color the saint’s picture. Each biography can be read to your child in less than two minutes. Having mom, or dad, or grandma, or even big brother or sister read each story will mean more for your child than having the story read as one more little segment of the CCD class. And talk with your child about the saint; put your child's saint drawing on your refrigerator for the week and mention the saint throughout the week. At the class website, there are links to videos for the various saints. The videos are short, less than 10 minutes. I encourage you to add the video to the coloring and your two-minute reading. Let the saints come alive for your child.

You are welcome to email me: 
You are welcome to phone me: 301-493-5832 (landline, no text).
You are welcome to talk with me after class. (Before class is not a good time.)
Typically, I am at one of the 5 p.m. Masses on the weekend.

By way of introduction, I am 72 years old. I have been a de Chantal parishioner since 1982; I live a mile from de Chantal, in the Wyngate neighborhood. This will be my 2nd year teaching CCD at de Chantal. I have been married for 48 years; my children are 43 and 38. Both went to Wyngate Elementary and did religious education at de Chantal. I was an at-home mom as my kids grew up. Additionally, and almost incidentally, I have a J.D. from George Mason University and am a member of the D.C. Bar, but it would be a stretch to say that I ever practiced law. My undergrad is in political science, and I did grad school in journalism. Decades ago, I taught quadratic equations at an adult education center for a few years, to people preparing for the GED exam. When my children were young, I ran Camp Fire groups (like Scouting) for ten years. I homeschooled my daughter for 8th grade. I have written a few published law review articles. I have done massive amounts of genealogical research, both documentary and DNA. 

What I'll be doing for the next eight months will be helping to prepare your child for the 2nd grade religious education class, which will lead into First Communion.

Please know that I prepare for every class session; I never "wing it." I try to change what we are doing about every 10 minutes; that is the typical attention span for these little ones. My intent is to do what I can, within my abilities, to deliver Jesus' message to your child.

Please communicate to your child that, yes, what will be happening at CCD is a real class. And, yes, Ms. Beard should be treated like a real teacher. It is not play time, and it is not daycare. I will do my best to teach your child. At the same time, please understand that, if your child does not want to be there and balks at being there, I cannot change that, and I also cannot deal with it. God has given everyone the gift of free will. I am not able to force a child to cooperate with the process of learning.

Alice Marie Beard

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