Anybody who has been keeping abreast of public education in the last few years has heard about benchmarks and Common Core standards. States have been adopting various approaches to try and measure the extent to which our children are comprehending and understanding broadly identified academic standards. Likewise, the pediatricians across this country offer parents countless pamphlets and brochures to help them track their child’s physical, intellectual and social development.
We have nothing comparable to these benchmarks in the Church. Yes, we offer a Confirmation Program that seeks to ensure that young people have a broad exposure and understanding of the Bible, Church History, Episcopal Church polity, Spirituality, Liturgy and some discernment of their gifts in regard to the life of the Church. However, up until Confirmation, most of us do not know what developmentally appropriate Christian Formation might look like, nor have we given it much thought. We send our children and youth off to church school and youth programs, but we may not know what they are gaining from these programs while they participate in them.
While the clergy at Church of the Redeemer believe that your familiarity with your children’s church programs should be as clear as your familiarity with their school curricula and lacrosse programs. You should know what your children will be learning at each age level. You should be able to track your children’s spiritual growth.
While we do not believe that our children should be tested and graded on their mastery of church school materials, we do believe it is vital to inform you of the richness of our programs and provide families a rationale and trajectory for our year to-year Christian formation offerings. Spanning from age 3 through 12th grade, the Faith Development Milestones were created to serve as a resource and reference point for families. Unlike academic benchmarks or growth percentiles, the Milestones take into consideration that faith is never a simple linear trajectory. Throughout the life of every believer there are peaks and valleys.
To fully understand the Milestones, we must be mindful to their intent. Rather than a simple check-list to be completed, the Milestones are more accurately a series of touchstones or path-markers. If our goal as parents, leaders and teachers is to provide our children the structure and love needed for their faith to flourish, the Milestones help to direct us according to where are children are in their own faith journey. There will be times when it seems as if they are taking a detour or step back. Likewise there will be moments when they are deeply connected with their faith. In either case, the Milestones provide structure for parents and leaders to reference as they seek to encourage our children to continue to grow in their faith. Whether it’s turning back to the fundamentals of the Lord’s Prayer and the God’s love for us or leading them deeper into their love for Scripture and liturgy, the Milestones offer a helpful and generous way forward in faith.
Click here for links to the Milestones for each age group.