Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WFMW: catechizing our children

Catechizing is simply a form of learning in questions answer format.  For instance, the first question in our catechism is, "Tell me, child, who made you?"  And our children answer, "The great God who made heaven and earth."

I have to admit that I would not have chosen to do this myself, but this was very important to my husband and so I added it onto our morning Bible time.  After we read the Bible and pray, I go right into asking the questions.

Catechizing sounded hard to me, and I wasn't sure how to start- none of my friends were doing this (to my knowledge), so I just started out reading the questions and the answers, one at a time, to our kids.  I use a sing-song kind of voice to help them learn.

Each day I start back with the first question and add additional questions when it seems they have the gist of the previous questions.  (When we got to a certain point with our oldest I would just review the first questions every week or so.)  We spend at the most five minutes a day on this.  It just doesn't take long for young children to memorize vast amounts of information.

I was surprised last week to realize that Sophie (age 3) knew almost every question Josh (age 5) knows.  I haven't worked with her past the first five questions or so, but she is present for Josh and Carter's questions, and has learned them just by being around. 

No need to wait until the kids can understand what they are learning.  This is memorization tool that serves to build theology into their little minds while they can memorize anything you put before them.  I'm sure we all have songs we memorized as children before we understood the words and now as adults we are a bit shocked (ok, ashamed) that we knew the lyrics to "Like a Virgin" memorized way before we knew what we were singing along to.  Even if you didn't know that particular song, you know what I am talking about.

We have been shocked at how much theology our kids have learned this way. The catechism gives them a framework in which to view the lense of Scripture.  I do not believe this knowledge saves them or changes their hearts- only God's Spirit can do that and we beg God for the salvation of our children.  But it is our prayer that God will use this knowledge like a well of water that they will draw from for the rest of their lives. 

Still dubious to the benefits of catechizing your children?  Here is an article (from a presbyterian perspective) you may find helpful.  

Our family uses the Tract Primer which is full of other great learning tools.  There several other good catechisms available, like this and this and this.  This definitely works for me.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more . . . we use the Catechism for Young Children with our kids. I'm amazed at how much they are able to learn and how they apply it at such an early age. It is also great for me when they ask me questions that are hard to answer--why can't we see God? Because God is a Spirit and does not have a body like men. It is nice having succinct, simple answer to point them to.
Thanks for sharing!

Tami@ourhouse said...

Exactly, solagratia! I have found the catechism answers immensely helpful in answering questions that come up.

Grateful for Grace said...

We need to get back to doing this. We 'fell off the wagon' last fall. We, too, were amazed at how much our kiddos were learning, even the (then) 4yo. We use Big Truths for Little Kids (Hunt) and really enjoy it. We did it at bedtime. I think I'll go get it out right now so we can start up again.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Julo said...

Yes! We've catechized our oldest (8) since he was about 3 and our middle child is 5. It truly works. We use the Catechism for Young Children, too, using the Truth and Grace (TAG) books also from .We LOVE the TAG books.

I like the Baptist Catechism which Jim Orrick set to music. You wouldn't believe how many of those i know just from having it playing in the background all day. There's something comforting and soothing to me about it.

Anyway, great post!

marigold said...

Great idea, lots of ways to educate the kiddos! I appreciate the resources you suggested too!

Tami@ourhouse said...

I've never seen the catechism set to music. What a great idea.

Anonymous said...

We use a catechism too. Megan is getting them about as well as Anna and Andrew. It's great to help us answer their questions. (we use a A Catechism for Boys and Girls that's included in a memory notebook that several people in our church use). Anna asked me once after the 25 and 26th questions..."What was the sin of our first parents? (eatig the forbidden fruit) "Why did they eat the forbidden fruit?" (B/C they did not believe what God had said) Anna asked, "Why did they WANT to eat the fruit, mommy?" Then followed that with "Mommy, would YOU have eaten that fruit?" Ohhh, out of the mouths of babes. Aren't you thankful for a PERFECT Savior? Let's keep catechizing them and growing ourselves!
Love you,

tonsofsons said...

Awesome! We will be adding this to our daily bible and worship time.

Thank you!

Angela Fehr said...

While we haven't done any catechism - though it might be a good idea - I have taken advantage of my preschoolers' great memories and we do Bible passage memorization. Right now we are working on part two of 1 John 4, and before that, my 3 and 5 year old daughters memorized Psalm 8. I realized that it might be a good idea to do Bible memory with them when I was memorizing Philippians and my then 3 year old oldest daughter started prompting me when I faltered!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I used to do this and i have so fallen off the wagon. This is one more sign from God for me to get my butt in gear.

When my 3 year old was 11 months old, if you asked "Who made you?" she would throw both arms up and say, "GOD!" It was the most precious thing.

Sheila said...

Thanks for the links to those books. I think I'm going to order the Questions and Answers book. Good reinforcement of what my son is already learning in Children's church.