With Kindergarten registration opening at OCSB schools last month, many parents have been asking about how faith is incorporated into our classrooms. At the Ottawa Catholic School Board, we recognize that the faith journey is a personal, ongoing process that strengthens and grows over time when nourished with love and care. In our schools the journey begins in Kindergarten, where students are introduced to faith-based materials in an interactive, play-based learning environment.
Kindergarten teacher Michelle Boudreau and Early Childhood Educator Rebecca Willemsen-Shackleton from St. Stephen School in Stittsville describe what the faith journey looks like in their classroom. "We support our students' faith journey by giving them access to faith-based resources, leading by example, and being open to learn from them so we can grow in our own personal faith."
A key focal point in their classroom is an interactive religion table with materials to help their students learn and grow. With weekly gospel lessons and craft activities to learn about God's work and fun books in French and English to be reminded of God's goodness, these educators are watering seeds of faith on a regular basis.
"We also recognize the importance of 'walking the talk' so we try hard to lead by example throughout the day in how we act and treat others in relation to our faith," said Mme Boudreau. This can be seen in the large container on the table that says "God's Bucket," referencing the popular book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" which encourages kids to fill the buckets of others with acts of kindness, but in this case, they fill God's bucket with acts of kindness and mercy.
Ms. Willemsen-Shackleton adds "everyday, I feel that I need to jump into my faith more and more so that I am prepared to answer the wonderful faith questions my students ask... I want to know more so that I can experience the same wonder that I see in my students when they are learning about Jesus."
Both educators agreed that the most rewarding aspects of supporting the faith journey of their students is in seeing the children get excited about their faith, and putting their faith to practice in their play throughout the day. "We often hear how our faith lessons spill over into other areas of their young lives and how they share these messages with their family and friends," continued Ms. Willemsen-Shackleton.
As the students continue on through other grades, our hope is that their seeds of faith continue to grow and mature with the help of our caring and supportive staff. We aim to support the development of students that embody Catholic Graduate Expectations who contribute in meaningful ways to the world around them. To learn more information about registering your child for Kindergarten at an OCSB school, visit ocsb.ca/kindergarten.