Editor's Note: We'd like to thank guest contributor Jared Haselbarth, creator of the Petty School Religion Program, for sharing the following information. Lisa

Shortly after his great conversion, St. Francis of Assisi was accosted by some thieves in the woods who demanded to know his identity. After realizing his true identity as a Christian, St. Francis knew exactly how to respond. He said to his would-be thieves, “I am the herald of the great King!” That he was and still is today. I wonder how often we think about the fact that we too, as Christians, must be Christ’s messengers. For most of us, this means first passing along the Gospel message to our own children.

We all hope that we might be able to provide our little ones with the kind of instruction and upbringing which would avoid any need of a major conversion later in life. Yet, I am surprised at how much random content, games, activities, books, and distractions parents put in their children’s early lives - and at the same time often neglect the most important influence: religion! Indeed, you are the first herald of Christ in your son or daughter’s life. What first experiences do your children have of Christ? Are those experiences speaking louder than the games, activities, books and distractions? Probably not.

And it needs to be said: our children simply do not know the Bible. They are finishing school with no real knowledge of the events and characters of the Bible. This needs to change!

PS I.1In an attempt to help parents out with all this, I have created the Petty School Religion Program offered through the Classical Liberal Arts Academy. This HD Video-Based Religion Program provides rich content for children to gain knowledge and understanding of Jesus and the Christian faith at an early age. The courses are intended for ages 3-10 (non-readers and new readers do fine) who are able to sit for brief periods of independent study using the rich format of the course videos. This content can replace evenings in front of the TV and all the cartoons and silly stuff (and homeschool Mom: need a daily 30 minute break? Here’s your chance!). Activities reinforce vocabulary, the memorization of basic Christian themes, and help create study patterns appropriate for young children.  The courses are a great way to introduce the Bible and faith into your children’s lives - these courses will help you be that Herald!

I created this coursework with my own children in mind. For Catholics that are concerned about catechesis, we have few options for the little ones. It is either a good Catholic school, which may be difficult to find, or a parish Religious Education program, which may not be as thorough as one would like. As a Scripture teacher myself, I knew that I wanted my children to be exposed to the Bible as much as possible. So, one of the main goals of these courses is to provide Scripture-based learning. Not complicated theological concepts, not watered down cartoons - just the Word made accessible to young minds.

The first two Petty School Religion courses are “The Life of Our Lord” and “The Teachings and Miracles of Our Lord.”  The first course studies Jesus’ life, guided by the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary and meditative study of the Gospels. The second course covers Jesus’ main teachings (Sermon on the Mount/Parables) and all the Miracles of Jesus and of the Apostles in Acts. Good family religion based on the Bible can really help to open future channels of grace in the child’s life.

In fact, St. Francis once said to a brother, “Many great sins I might have committed, if God in his mercy and by his Grace had not preserved me from them.” The mystery of grace is so profound - saving us from untold evil. In the same way that God the Father quietly did his part to preserve St. Francis from certain evils, we too, as fathers and mothers, ought to do our part in our children’s early years to provide them with the means of keeping their hearts pure. Religion does this for children naturally. Listening to the Scriptures, singing peaceful hymns, reciting holy prayers, viewing sacred Art, memorizing Gospel stories - these things all contribute to the preservation of our children’s souls. The Petty School Religion program is intended to help parents do all this, and do it well.

Each course lesson weaves together sacred Art, Music, Tradition and Scripture with even-paced videos, memory questions and assessments to provide children with an enjoyable yet edifying introduction to the faith. It is an excellent combination of visual, audio, and written content that is perfect for the younger student. Their minds are filled with holy and sacred content that will provide fruitful soil for later studies in Religion and Catechism.

The basic format of a Petty School Religion lesson is as follows:

  • Learn a video-based Catholic Prayer set to original music which I composed (26 total prayers taught in the first two courses)
  • Learn the video-based Lesson from the Sacred Scriptures.
  • Learn a video-based Christian Hymn using church organ and my own vocals (18 hymns taught in the first two courses)

There are plenty of samples on the course home page and more information about enrollment, costs, format, etc.

Remember what the Herald of the great King, St. Francis, said about the importance of guiding your children’s spiritual life: “It is not right to lose even the least spiritual light for the sake of the light of the body.” You should do all that you can to provide for the spiritual nourishment of your children. I hope these courses will be able to help you!

Introduction to Petty School Religion:

Jared Hasselbarth Jared Haselbarth

Mr. Jared Haselbarth graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001 with a degree in Theology and went on to complete a Master’s degree in Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Graduate School in 2005.  He is a founding member of the Classical Liberal Arts College and a Faculty member of St. Charles where he also serves as the Director of the Graduate School.  He has taught Scripture and Theology courses at St. Charles and DeSales University. Mr. Haselbarth has been involved in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy from its beginning, serving as a course instructor (Art History, Music History, Petty School Religion) and is well-known for his production of excellent Catholic music, videos, holy cards and a Daily Audio Bible Program.  He is the owner of Media Haze, LLC and NABaudio.com. He and his wife are the parents of four young boys.

Copyright 2014 Jared Haselbarth