Nursery - 5th Grade
"Faith is more easily caught than taught”
St. Matthew’s welcomes, nurtures and incorporates children in our worship and community life. Children develop a sense of St. Matthew’s as their church family and home. They are encouraged to be acolytes, choir members, ushers and greeters. We have a dynamic Church School program in partnership with Wilton Presbyterian Church (WPC) for children from infancy through 7th grade.
Every Sunday of the year, children from infancy up to the age of three years old are provided a safe, warm and welcoming environment in the care of our two paid supervisors, Jennifer Harris and Lucia Sato, as well as additional youth volunteers.
Church School meets during our 10 am worship service and provides for both activities-centered learning about the Bible and our Christian faith, and a weekly experience of worship and communion.
Our Church School is a vibrant community of adults and children from both St. Matthew's and WPC who come together every Sunday morning to worship, learn, pray, sing, play games, develop a sense of belonging, and explore what it means to be a child of God. Children in kindergarten through 7th Grade begin worship with their families, move to Church School after the reading of the lessons, and return for communion. Younger children go directly to their classes at 10 am.
All grade levels from 3 year olds through 5th grade use the same curriculum “Gather ’Round” which teaches the same Bible story to all grade levels each week in ways that are carefully designed to be meaningful, fun and age-appropriate for each grade. Children are given the opportunity to experience, interpret and explore how New and Old Testament stories relate to their own lives as they study the Bible. Families can talk about the day's lesson on their way home from church. Information about each week's lesson is given in each Sunday's bulletin.
Sixth and seventh graders use the “Tweens” curriculum which is planned to be especially meaningful for middle schoolers and to help them develop a faith framework for their daily experiences and challenges.
Joyful Noise is a monthly program which gives Kindergarten through 3rd grade children the opportunity to sing and learn songs of faith. They sing both traditional hymns and such old favorites as "Jesus Loves Me" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands". Children also receive communion alternating between Episcopalian and Presbyterian traditions.
There is a strong emphasis in our curriculum for encouraging our children to be givers and to serve others both within our church communities and in the larger world.
In the fall and the spring, each class makes small individualized gifts of food or crafts which are then gathered together from all the classes into gift bags. These gift bags are then delivered by Church School families to 20 people within our two churches to let them know that we are thinking of them and giving them a smile.
In addition, Church School does two major collections each year for agencies that are supported by our Outreach Committee that have specific requests for items that they need. For example, we have collected children's clothing for the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport and food for both the Wilton and Norwalk Food Pantries.
Children are also included in larger Mission work within our parish assisting with the Tagless Sale and other projects during the year.
Holiday Church School
On vacation weekends when attendance is low, we combine Kindergarten through 4th grades to offer a special "Godly Play" experience led by Sharon Pearson, a nationally known religious educator. "Godly Play" is a Montessori-based approach to teaching children about faith which is very meaningful and involving for all ages.
Summer Church School
Every Sunday throughout the summer, there is a combined grade Church School class for all children up through 4th grade. Nursery care is also provided for children up to 3 years old.
Worship is at the heart of all we do at St. Matthew’s, and the acolytes serve at the heart of worship – leading, guiding, and helping. This hands-on, up-front ministry is for youth from 4th-12th grades. Acolytes serve approximately once per month in Sunday morning worship and occasionally at services on special occasions and holy days. John and Sharon Pearson coordinate the acolytes. (SPearson@cpg.org)
Seasonal Family Activities
Fourth Grade Bibles
Every fall, all fourth grade students are given colorful bibles in celebration and recognition of their increasing maturity and readiness to read God's Word on their own with understanding. They receive them in the 10 a.m. service surrounded by their parish family.
Families can take part in a workshop where they assemble unique Advent calendars which have an envelope for each day in Advent. Each envelope holds a daily message and a treat. Many families have found this St. Matthew's tradition has greatly enhanced their experience of Advent.
Children can learn more about the tradition of the creche and make their own creche figures from a variety of materials during this Sunday afternoon Advent gathering.
February "Festival of Children Worship" Service
The Church School classes lead this special worship service with each grade level taking responsibility for a different part of the service. By being leaders, our children learn more about worship and the different parts of our liturgy. The 6th/7th grade class presents a sermon/play.
Lenten Calendars and Lenten Boxes
Simple Lenten activity calendars and Lenten boxes to collect money for Episcopal Relief and Development mission work give an opportunity for family discussions about world hunger and how our coins can help.
Palm Sunday Crosses
After church children can learn how to make palm crosses at this informal workshop.
Good Friday Service for Children and Families
This is a special worship service planned for children which allows them to walk through the events of Holy Week and experience them in a unique manner. For instance, they wash their hands to remember the way that Pilate washed his hands and visit a garden to remember the garden at Gethsemane.