Through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, St. Croix Catholic's preschool and primary students make regular visits to age-appropriate "atriums" which cultivate children’s sense of wonder and yearning for God.
The Atrium is a specially prepared environment for children. This includes small chairs, shelves, and tables. There are three atriums: I (ages 3-6), II (ages 6-9), III (ages 9-12)
Materials include things like holy cards, candles, flowers, nativity scenes, etc. which CGS catechists use to explore Christ’s parables and signs with the children. When a child enters the atrium, he or she chooses what “work” or materials they’d like to explore, connecting with the person of Christ in different ways. (i.e. make prayer cards, free draw or write their own personal prayer)
A CGS Atrium:
- recognizes a child’s capacity to understand, engage, and worship at a young age.
- gives the child the tools and language to cultivate their “Christian Imagination”: to ponder and contemplate the mystery of Christ and their relationship with him.
- is heavily based on Montessori’s observations and methods. (i.e. encourages a love of learning through stimulating materials, and progresses at the child’s pace)
- is based on 60+ years of observation.
- teaches through Jesus’ parables, so a child may ponder both everyday life and transcendence.
- teaches using the signs in the Catholic Liturgy, helping the child understand the beauty of the Mass and sacraments. (i.e. liturgical colors, the altar, gesture of peace)