The power of play can have a profound effect on children that can endure well into their teenage years.
Children love to play. It’s a basic fact of life, but something we often forget is that children also learn and express themselves when then play.
According to an article in the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth … Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development.”
Play is also essential in a child’s spiritual development, which in some ways can be seen in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori method of catechesis that allows the child time to enter into biblical events and the Mass through manipulatives — objects that appeal to the senses.
Another way to foster a healthy appreciation of Mass is to encourage young children to “play” Mass at home. It allows them the opportunity to recall the events of the Mass and to play them out. While it may seem like it wouldn’t have an impact on a child, it surprisingly can influence a child in their vocational discernment.
When boys in particular take the role of the priest, they can begin to think internally about who they are and if they could one day become a priest. A very tiny seed is planted and many priests today will tell you how they played Mass as a kid. The connection should not be surprising and is why many Catholic families encourage their sons to play Mass, going so far as to purchase or make a mini Mass kit, complete with elegant vestments.
If you need any encouragement, check out these adorable videos below and let the children speak for themselves!