Teach your children how to pray the rosary so they will be able to contemplate on the mysteries of Jesus’ life and draw closer to Him in prayer.
When you think about adding a family rosary to your day, do you imagine everyone sitting quietly with eyes closed in contemplative prayer? Can you picture the flicker of candles and hear soft music in the background? Notice your preschooler swinging his rosary like a lasso out of the corner of your eye?
Praying a family rosary is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family, growing spiritually. However, as much as we’d love our children to sit quietly and look forward to this prayer time, that doesn’t always happen. Young children get tired or bored, older kids may bicker about which rosary to use or whose turn it is to lead.
How do you teach your children not only to know the prayers of the rosary, but also to make this a respectful prayer time? How do you make a prayer they will continue praying into adulthood?
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Why is it Important to Pray the Rosary?
The rosary is a form of meditative prayer. It’s a reflection on the life, ministry, and death of Jesus and of His Blessed Mother. Mary shared the Rosary with St. Dominic as an aid to convert sinners. For hundreds of years, it consisted only of the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. St. John Paul II added the luminous mysteries to the Rosary in 2002. Mary has asked us to pray the Rosary in several apparitions, so it’s important that our children know how.
If you want to live liturgically in your home, the Rosary is a perfect chance to spend time in prayer with your children. The more your children see you pray, the more likely they will be to continue it as they grow themselves.
When is a Good Time to Teach Children to Pray the Rosary?
The months of May and October are good months to focus on the Rosary. May is the month we devote to the Blessed Virgin Mary. October is the Month of the Rosary, with the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7. Either month would be a great time to teach your children more about Mary and dedicate to praying the Rosary together as a family.
However, anytime is a good time to learn how to pray the Rosary! Any age is a good age to learn as well! You definitely do not need to wait until a certain month or feast day to begin, though those might give you an extra push to get it started! You can choose a specific day of the week to pray as a family, or you can start with a decade each day. It really depends on the ages of your children and how easily you think it’ll be to make praying the rosary a habit in your home.
How Do You Make Praying a Family Rosary a Habit?
I first want to mention that any amount of prayer you do with your children is better than none. Teaching your children to pray requires great patience and a lot of repetition! Please don’t get discouraged if they groan about having to pray a rosary, or if you have to stop midway through prayers to remind your children about proper behavior. Those can also be valuable teaching opportunities as well.
The Most Important Tip when Trying to Make Something New a Habit
I mention this tip quite often when I share ideas on making something a habit in your home, whether it is meal planning or notebooking, and that is to start small and simply. Say you decide your family needs to pray a family rosary, so you buy everyone new rosaries and prayer books and set out to pray an entire rosary every single day from day one, complete with scripture readings and silent meditation time throughout each decade. While that is a noble goal, you will probably get discouraged by day four and quit altogether.
I don’t say that to deter you from starting a family rosary. Quite the contrary, actually. I say that to remind you that it is always better to start small and ease into something new to your life. If your family doesn’t pray together at all, you might just want to start with an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for a little while, especially if your children are all young. Get used to gathering together at a certain time, though you should be prepared to move that time around to see what works best. Once you are consistently gathering to pray, then try one decade a day or even once a week. Only move to a full rosary when you know that your children will be able to handle it.
A Bonus Tip
But always stay flexible! If your kids are anything like mine, they have days when they just want to pick a fight or complain about every little thing. Days that they are tired or just want to play instead of pray. You may need to bring a full rosary back down to a decade a day for awhile, and that’s ok! Your kids may grumble through it. And that’s ok, too.
A few years ago, we prayed a full rosary to begin our homeschool days. Then I had our youngest. A little guy who has not been the easiest and most laid-back child. After realizing that the rosary was becoming a time of stress in our day, I scaled back to one decade. That has been working wonderfully for us this year. So for now, that’s enough. Would I like to pray a full rosary each day? Of course I would! But that’s just not where we are right now and I accept that.
I also accept that for us right now our rosaries do not include the entire family. It is much easier with our current schedules to begin our homeschool days with a decade of the rosary. So for now, our rosaries include only my boys and me five days a week. If I waited for the perfect time when everyone was home and in a good mood, we’d never pray! Sometimes you just have to do what’s good enough.
How to Teach Your Children to Pray a Rosary.
Teaching your children how to pray the rosary can be as simple as sitting down with them and showing them how to use their fingers to count the Hail Marys. However, I have found a few tips through my own experience in teaching my children how to pray the rosary that I’d like to share with you to make the process easier.
1. Introduce them to Mary at an early age.
Children seem naturally drawn to Mary, which makes sense considering that children want to be close to their mothers. Mary is our mother in Heaven. So give your children chances to become closer to Mary, and also to associate the rosary with her.
I do this by introducing my children to Mary from the very beginning of their lives. I have pictures and statues of Mary around my house and gardens, and I explain to them that Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but a mother to us all. Jesus gave Mary to us from the cross.
I also expose my children to the rosary from a young age. Each of my children received their first rosaries, a large wooden rosary as a Baptism gift when they were infants. Additionally, my gift for each of them for their First Holy Communion has been a custom-made rosary with their names as some of the beads. Occasionally we’ll receive rosaries when attending activities with our local Catholic homeschool group. A couple of times we’ve even been fortunate enough to make rosaries during one of these events.
Our rosaries are part of our learning area decor. Years ago, I found directions on how to make rosary holders at Catholic Icing, and my three older children each made one. Except for one rosary they each keep in their bedrooms, their rosaries hang on these holders.
Mary also becomes the focus of our prayer table in May and October. I have a blue table runner that I lay across our prayer table. Then I place all of our Mary statues on the table. Sometimes I try to add a vase of flowers, and I like to lay out a rosary among the statues in October. My treasured statue of Our Lady of Fatima sits on my mantle throughout the year when she is not on the prayer table, as she is our homeschool’s patron saint.
2. Include them in family prayer time.
Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, love to feel included. I know my little guy always wants to do what his big brothers and sister are doing. So try to include your children, even the youngest ones, in your family’s prayer time. If the Rosary has been prayed around them from early on, it will just be a natural part of their lives.
An easy way to include your children while praying the Rosary is to make sure they each have a rosary of their own. Even babies can hold onto the Chews Life rosaries, which are safe for them to put in their mouths. My little guy doesn’t understand how we use the rosary to pray, but he does hold onto one. Eventually the understanding will come, but even at age three, he understands that the rosary beads are used for prayer.
3. Use prayer booklets to follow along.
It is important to have children memorize Catholic prayers, especially those prayed in the Rosary. I include prayer memorization as a part of our memory work in our Morning Basket.
However, before your children have the prayers memorized, it’s helpful to have Rosary prayer booklets or prayer cards available to read during the Rosary. Even my kids who have their prayers memorized like to follow along in a Rosary booklet.
4. Let them lead the prayers.
Not only do children like to be included in family activities, but they also enjoy being actively involved in them. So allow your children to take the lead while praying the Rosary. Leading the Rosary will also help them focus because they’ll need to know which bead everyone is on so they can say the correct prayer.
In our home, we’ve had our children lead in a few different ways. We have had one child lead the entire Rosary and rotate daily who leads. Additionally, we have had the children rotate through each decade, each taking a turn to lead. This year it’s just my two middle boys praying the morning Rosary with me, so I read the mystery and then they take turns leading each prayer of that decade.
We even try to include the 3-year-old in leading when he is sitting and paying attention while we pray. We will help him lead the Glory Be by feeding him each line of the prayer and having him repeat it. He loves getting to be an active part of the prayers!
In closing, teaching your children to pray the rosary is a process. It is absolutely worth sharing this prayer time together as a family. Using the tips given above, you will be able to help your children show devotion to Jesus. They will grow up with a healthy prayer life, which will hopefully help them continue a daily rosary habit throughout their lives.