It’s never too early for children to learn how to say the Rosary. Here’s some documented evidence:
That was my younger daughter when she was just two-and-a-half years old. I didn’t know how (or have any desire) to say the Rosary until well into my 30s, so let’s not make the same mistake with the next generation of Catholics.
In a recent reflection, Pope Francis reminded us of the importance of family prayers, no matter how little time we think we have:
Our families need to ask for the gift of the Spirit! Through prayer, even in the busiest times, we give time back to God, we find the peace that comes from appreciating the important things, and we encounter the joy of God’s unexpected gifts. Through daily prayer may our homes become, like the house of Martha and Mary, places where Jesus always finds a warm welcome.
The first step to getting youngsters excited about the Rosary is getting them actively involved. Here are a few ideas:
Walking Rosary – This is perhaps my favorite way to involve my entire family in saying the Rosary as it can help strengthen both your spiritual and physical health. All you have to do is walk around while you’re praying. In my household with two small children, we do walking Rosaries in follow-the-leader style. Whoever is leading at the decade at the time will mix in a few other actions while leading the walk, such as sitting on the couch and quickly standing up again or spontaneously doing a jumping jack in the midst of the prayer. Then everyone in line has to follow along. The kids love it, usually. Some parishes have Rosary gardens which is a great way for children to follow along as they hop from one bead to the next.
Singing Rosary – Sure, it would take quite a long time to sing an entire Rosary. But from time to time to keep kids interested, you can mix in some singing by letting them create their own tune for the Hail Marys, or borrowing from an existing hymn such as Hail Mary Gentle Woman.
Drawing Rosary – There are endless possibilities here. Children may enjoy drawing their own Rosary beads and using their creations to follow along during the prayer. Or as youngsters start to learn the mysteries they can draw a picture depicting each one and then use their pictures while families reflect upon each mystery. And it’s always a joy to have children draw pictures of Mary.
Rosary Toys – This one used to keep my older daughter happy during the Rosary when she was a toddler. Just grab ten small toys and children can line them up and use them to help keep track of the Hail Marys.
Living Rosary – This works well if you have a larger group of children such as during religious education classes. If you have at least ten kids, they can line up and say a Hail Mary when it’s their turn. You can use a large ball as a bead and they can pass it to each other to keep track of whose turn it is.
Rosy Rosary – This is another one that works well in a larger group. Buy enough roses or other flowers so that children can take turns placing them in front a statue or image of Mary for each prayer or at least each decade.
There is always a delicate balance when praying the Rosary with my kids because I still want to maintain a reverent and respectful demeanor while in prayer. But if having a little fun at the same time is what it takes to involve and interest the children, then of all people, our Blessed Mother in Heaven will understand.