Teaching Your Children the Catechism
“Christian children mainly need to be taught the doctrines, precepts, and life of the gospel; they require divine truth to be put before them clearly and forcibly. Why should the higher doctrines, the doctrines of grace, be kept back from them? These doctrines are not merely structural bones; or if they are, they are full of marrow and covered with fatness.
Our responsibility is to make doctrine simple; this is a main part of our work. Teach the little ones the whole truth and nothing but the truth, for instruction is the great desire of the child’s nature.” (Charles Spurgeon, Come Ye Children)
Moms and Dads, your children are growing up in a post-Christian world. Though you may be Christians, the world around them is so violently not. It is not just a privilege to raise your kids to know the scriptures; it is vital in this modern age.
Children of all ages are so capable of learning basic theology. They do not need to be relegated to coloring pages and Bible “stories.” Yes, those are fun and very helpful for young children, but they should not be a child’s only instruction in the Bible. They can learn the doctrines of the Christian faith, and you don’t have to have a seminary degree to teach them!
Perhaps your initial thought is, “How in the world can you teach a young child systematic theology?” That might sound like a tall order, but don’t let the phrase “systematic theology” mislead you. For kids, this kind of instruction simply goes by a different name—the often neglected and almost entirely forgotten practice known as catechism.Josh Niemi, Expository Parenting
One of the easiest and deepest ways to accomplish this is through the use of a catechism. But getting started can feel overwhelming!
I’d like to share with you the simple method that we use in our home to teach the catechism, and I’ll also share what some fellow mom-bloggers use! But first, just what is a catechism?
What is catechism?
It is a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians. The questions and answers each address a specific tenet of the Christian faith, and are usually followed with scriptural proofs.
You can think of a catechism as the Bible’s Cliff’s Notes.Trisha @ Intoxicated on life
There are several catechisms used by Christians, but one of the most popular is the Westminster Shorter Catechism. (Fun fact: it is not short! There are 107 questions in the WSC.) Here’s a sample of the beginning:
How We Use Catechism
I have a very simple, DIY method for this in our home. When the kids are of reading and writing age, I provide a copy of the WSC and instruct them to begin memorizing one question (and its answer) at a time. Additionally, the questions, answers, and the scripture proofs become their copywork.
Catechism and Bible reading are a part of the daily routine. After breakfast and morning chores, the kids read their Bibles (or I read to the younger ones) and then proceed to work on their catechism. I simply print out the free PDF of the WSC for each child and it goes into a spiral notebook.
I will sit down once or twice weekly and quiz them individually on what they’ve memorized.
The beauty of the catechism is in everyday life. When you’ve memorized the doctrines found there, it is very easy to apply them to any situation! Purpose in life? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” We can redirect our paths and choices by asking, “Does this glorify God?”
Knowing the Bible is the foundation for a biblical worldview. The best authors, textbooks, or devotional books cannot come close to the teachings of the Bible. Through the memorization of the questions and answers, and the study of the scripture proofs, they have a solid foundation in God’s word.
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is the foundation of all clear views of religion. He that is well grounded in it will not generally waiver; he will not be carried about by every wind of new doctrine. Any system of training that does not make knowledge of Scripture its priority is unsafe and unsound. If you love your children, let the simple Bible be everything in the training of their souls and let all other books take second place.(J.C. Ryle, The Duties of Parents)
More Resources for Catechism
Tauna at Proverbial Homemaker has created a complete curriculum that teaches and reinforces a simple catechism for children in roughly 1st-5th grade. It’s called Sound Words, and there’s a free sample download available!
Click the banner to order:
Teaching Catechism: What, Why, and How @ Intoxicated on Life is a great introduction. Follow that one up with What Catechism Should I Use with my Kids?
Bambi Moore at Fitly Spoken has a great post entitled Seven Discipleship Resources for Children, including several books for children based on the Westminster Catechism.
Read this Comparison of the Westminster and Reformed Confessions for your own study.
Leah at Simple.Home.Blessings shares about how she teaches the catechism through music, and also offers a set of FREE catechism cards (and suggestions for use in your family). Check out her post Simple Catechism Cards.
Lindsey @ TalkingMom2Mom has an explanation of how she uses a Baptist catechism with her children in her post Using Catechisms to Disciple Children and a FREE Printable.
Classical Copywork has a Westminster Shorter Catechism Copywork curriculum, available to purchase as a PDF or spiral-bound book. It comes in print or cursive, and intermediate or advanced.
I hope you have been encouraged to use a catechism with your children, and have found a method or resource that works for you!
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