I have avoided diving to deep into saints with my children for so long. I know why! I am completely awed and intimidated and sometimes – Lord forgive me – disquieted by them. I feel completely and utterly inadequate in my faith when compared with any of them. This is especially true of those who were tortured. I just can’t imagine having to live (and die) th
rough what so many of them went through. Every time I begin with studying the Saint’s lives for myself I find myself giving up and getting even a bit despondent. How could I ever hope to live up to these amazing examples of unwavering faith – and why is this world so incredibly cruel to those who shine with God’s love? Of course – this world was cruel to God incarnate himself so why should I really be surprised.
Yet no matter how much I try and delay delving into the lives of the saints with my children because of my discomfort the more God places in my life reminders of it’s importance. And in the last two years since I set the intention to delve into saints with my children so many resources have been released to help with just this – from Draw Near Designs 2021 Calendar to Sarah Wright’s new book 101 Orthodox Saints.
We began an alternative schooling journey this September which has been an incredible blessing. In preparation I read a beautiful Orthodox homeschool curriculum guide called the Garden of the Theotokos which draws heavily on daily teaching of the saints even for the littlest learners. They follow an almost Waldorf style of using dramatic play (imagine felted scenes etc) to bring to life the saints’ lives in a way that connects with childrens’ minds and hearts. I stumbled across these books the other day in cleaning our our classroom shelf. Then a Catholic podcaster I follow, who focuses on reading with children, posted her favorite favorite stories about Christian saints and heroes. Then finally the amazing group, Orthodox Pebbles, recently released their November Saints materials and I decided it was now or never – that I can’t wait till I’m comfortable with everything to teach it – but rather, in a true homeschool spirit, I can learn alongside my children as we come to know and love the saints together.
We celebrate by the Old Calendar and so our Nativity Fast doesn’t begin until the end of November which gives us the month to focus on these Saints before we begin our daily readings from the Jesse Tree for Nativity. It will mean we will study these saints by their New Calendar dates to fit them into November, but the importance is in learning about the Saints! One of my children is included in the November saints too, although we celebrate his namesday in December, so there will be a nice connection for my littles.
I don’t know exactly how we will do the teachings – I will report back! There are 11 saints to celebrate and five full weeks in November. Since we are really starting fresh (although my children know about saints already of course) we will spend the first week on the basics of Orthodox Saints (Orthodox Pebbles also did a lovely printable for that here). Then we will aim to tackle about 3 saints a week and ignore the exact dates. I have printed out the printables in color and put into a three ring binder and plan to print the saints cards on the cardstock they recommend to give them a more permanent quality so we can bring them out next November again!
If you are feeling hesitant to really start the journey into the lives of the saints with your children I hope you will consider joining me this coming month. I’d love to hear from you – I will work on finding a way to connect – maybe through instagram or something if I can get myself organized on that – I would love to hear how things go for you – what works and what doesn’t – either now in November 2021 or whenever you get to this. For now feel free to comment below to connect.
May our every effort be blessed.
With love in Christ,