We often underestimate how much small children can understand and remember. We observe that the three year old can’t remember to eat over the table, so why in the world would we try to teach her to memorize a scripture more than five words long? But in reality, she can learn verses substantially longer and more complex than we expect.
We see that the five year old has a hard time recounting the Bible story he learned in Sunday school 30 minutes ago (or is mine the only one?) so obviously we wouldn’t try to teach theology to our kids. He couldn’t begin to process things like the triune nature of God.
But we’re wrong.
Kids CAN learn so much more than we give them credit for. And while our kids have been happily learning the common Bible stories and memorizing scripture (when mom’s on top of things), we felt there was a piece missing from their early Bible instruction.
Doctrine and theology. Yep.
Why Teach Theology to Your Kids?
There are many reasons to dedicate some effort to teaching doctrine and theology to our kids. Here are a few:
- They will ask the questions anyway. And sooner than we think.
- It will help tie together the Bible stories and scriptures they are learning.
- We will give them a pattern of faith (our own) to work from as they grow into their own understanding.
A great way to teach these big ideas in the form of catechism. This is the tool our family has chosen to pursue this year as a supplement to our Bible studies. Please note: Catechism ≠ Catholic.
What is Catechism?
When we hear “catechism,” most people think of the Catholic church, or boring drills, or empty rote memorization. But it is not empty! And it doesn’t have to be boring either!
So what is catechism? It is an orderly way of teaching facts through he use of questions and answers. It is often used in secular and academic purposes as well.
In using the Q&A method to teach Biblical truths, we are establishing in our children a “pattern of sound words” or doctrine that can become building blocks in their spiritual lives.
(Read more from Desiring God and John Piper about why using catechisms today is important.)
We teach our children scripture in a similar way, hiding it in their hearts. They may not understand it in full right away, but over time the Holy Spirit brings it to mind during conversations, experiences, or studies, and greater understanding results. This is especially true with continued review and instruction.
How to Teach Catechism
It is important to say what catechism will NOT do for you.
- It’s NOT a replacement for regular Bible reading and study.
- It WON’T guarantee kids that love God and know His Word.
- It’s NOT useful unless it points to Christ.
In my mind, catechism is just one of many tools for biblical instruction. Just as memorization, using songs, writing things down or using illustrations and stories are tools.
Being able to recite answers to questions, while it seems rather simplistic, can lead to…
- deep conversations,
- big-picture understanding,
- dots being connected in their mind across the scriptures
It is like laying out a roughly drawn map. This map is in the shape of the cross. It’s the heart of God.
We started teaching catechism using the Westminster Catechism for Boys and Girls, which is excellent and aligns exactly with our personal theological beliefs.
A little while ago, we discovered some great children’s music called Questions and Answers, from Dana Dirksen of Songs for Saplings. Our kids LOVE the songs and they teach the questions and answers of the catechism with memorable tunes and scriptures to back up the concepts.
Sound Words for Kids: A Protestant Westminster Catechism
To help our family and yours teach the basics of the Christian faith to our kids, we’re providing a theology curriculum for children that uses a catechism format!
Sounds Words teaches theological truths in Q&A form to children from pre-k to 1st grade. It teaches scripture to back up each point of the catechism, songs, memorization tools, crafts and activities, family devotions, copy work, notebooking pages and more!
Find out more on the Sound Words for Kids page!
More Resources to Teach Theology to Your Kids
Here are some of the resources we love for teaching the basics of the Christian faith to our children.