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How Best To Teach Children About Religion?

Nov 2, 2009

By Amelia Santaniello and Frank Vascellaro


According to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 92 percent of Americans believe in God. It's a smaller number -- 54 percent -- who attend services regularly.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise when WCCO-TV asked first-graders at the International School of Minnesota if they regularly attend religious services, about half the children raised their hands. Then we asked them if they believe in God. The answer: a loud and collective, "Yes." The children don't just believe. They like God.

Six-year-old Evan said, "God is kind and nice because he brings people happiness." Seven-year-old Jerod said, "I really like God 'cause he made our whole world." Their classmate Anna said simply, "I love God."

If they could ask God anything, what would it be?

Trudie, the class clown, wants to ask God "to give me $1,000." More seriously, Apurva would ask God to "help other people who don't have money, give them more money."

Then there are the big questions.

From Will, "How did you create people?" Victor one-upped that one with, "How did you create everything in the whole entire universe?"

"Some of those are the earliest questions, why and where and how," said Carol Dittberner. "And of course the big question, 'Who made God?'"

Dittberner is the director of religious education at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis. For 27 years, she's been teaching children about Catholicism using Maria Montessori's hands-on approach.

What does she think is the best way to teach children about God and religion?

"By example," answered Dittberner. "The best thing is to always include your children when you go to worship, when you go to church, when you say your prayers."

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