EWTNKids: A Skeptical Mom Changes Her Mind

EWTNKidsEWTNKids is a website that uses games and graphics to teach your kids about their Catholic faith. “Oh no, not one of those again!” I hear you say.

I know, I have been jaded as a mom, when I have proposed the Faith to my kids one too many times with a Bible cartoon or faith-based show, only to have them get bored within two minutes and start complaining about it. So I have become extra picky with the kind of media I choose to teach my kids about Catholicism. I want my kids to find the Faith exciting, something that reaches them on their level, and engages them completely as long as it possibly can.

So when a friend I respect recommended the EWTNKids website, I decided to give it a try, only out of respect for her, not because I was particularly excited about the prospect of yet another attempt to make our Faith “cool” to our children.

(NOTE: The site does ask users to register to be a member of the EWTN Clubhouse. Some parts of the site are available for use without registration.)

I opened up the site and clicked around on it. I saw long paragraphs, quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and slightly outdated graphics. My first scan of it was hypercritical and cursory, I will admit. But since I am a truth seeker, I did a little experiment and decided to try the site out on my own little critics.

BeatriceMy seven-year-old Beatrice, with a 5th-grade reading level and an insatiable appetite for knowledge — but, because of her smarts, also a harsh critic of all things media — was the first to try it. I started her on the page called “The Village” At first she was a bit unsure, asking me how to navigate the site.  I told her to click on “God’s House”, what they call the church.

She asked,  “What do I do now”?

“Just click on whatever you want,” I said. “You’re a good reader!”

Slowly, I saw her get more and more interested … what kid wouldn’t like options, and colorful images with little sound effects, of things you always see your parents engaging with? Then I wandered off, to give Beatrice a bit more freedom, expecting her to leave the computer, or navigate from that site to another one of her kid sites.

Five minutes later I came back into the room, and heard her say, “I am gonna have to write that down, I don’t want to forget that!” She promptly got up, grabbed a notebook and feverishly filled a whole page full of notes, even sketching the little pencil character that “tells” the kids about Catholicism.

She took notes on the Sacraments, such as the who, what, where, when and how of Baptism. And, much to my joy, she started asking EWTN-Kids-Churchme where she was baptized, and where I was baptized, too. She asked me how to pronounce “Eucharist.” She played a musical game with singing nuns, clicked around the inside of the church, learning its different parts. She found the school room, where she took a faith quiz. An hour later I had to pry her off the computer to give her little sister a turn.

OK, little Maggie’s five-year-old language skills are not nearly as advanced as her big sister’s. Diagnosed with a 14-month speech delay at three years old, she barely learned all her sight words at the end of kindergarten. Plus, she does everything her own way, no matter how odd it might seem to her peers. “EWTNKids” had definitely met its match.

I started her right where Beatrice was in the Church, and she tried some of the faith facts. I could tell she had trouble understanding. But she clicked on the Village page, curious to see if there was something else that might catch her fancy. Finally. “The Morgans’ House” is where she ended up — there are different houses, inhabited by a multicultural selection of families — inside the room with twins Erin and Mary’s names hanging on the door.

EWTN-Kids-MorganIn the room she saw two pictures of patron saints, a little Bible where she could read a scripture passage, a craft “How to make a Spiritual Bouquet.” At last, she found a coloring book to click on. She was hooked!  She said, “Mommy, I want to color ALL the pictures!” And there were quite a few to choose from.

I was proven wrong. Two kids, so completely different in their tastes and in their scholastic strengths, both were absorbed by the website.  And inside, I am comforted as a mom, because I have found a good tool for my kids to learn their faith, and have a little fun in the process.

OK, it might not have the most dazzling graphics, but we aren’t talking about Nickelodeon and Disney here. EWTN is a donation-based Catholic ministry, so it’s not fair to compare. The great thing about this site is that its message is safe and sure to be free of any modern heresies out there, as EWTN always goes the extra mile to give its viewers the pure unadulterated truth about Catholicism and the best of what Catholicism has to offer. Which leads me to think that it’s also possible that Mom and Dad could learn a thing or two as they look over their child’s shoulder, just as the author of this blog did.

Image: Courtesy EWTN

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