Education, Getting Started, Parenting

Teaching the Catechism

What a gift we have in Luther’s Small Catechism! What a useful tool for systematically teaching our children the truths of God’s Word! Martin Luther intended for fathers to use the Small Catechism to teach their children. Yes, it is for pastors too, but the responsibility belongs first to fathers.

Generations of Lutherans have learned the faith through the simple study of the Small Catechism, but as parents, how should we approach teaching it to our children? At our March 7th symposium, Pastor Peter Faugstad presented Growing into—and not out of—the Catechism, a paper rich with ideas for parents seeking applications for the catechism in the daily training of their children. Pastor Faugstad offers many suggestions for moving children from a simple, grammar-stage understanding of the catechism into a deeper, logic-stage level of analysis.

What about our younger children? How do we teach them the catechism? The simple answer is: do it. Read it together. Discuss it together. Memorize it together. But sometimes a plan can make this more manageable. There are a couple of resources you may wish to use; lesson plans, if you will, that can guide your study.

On My Heart is a curriculum that my husband and I put together several years ago when our oldest child was young. We have used this plan for just about a decade now to teach our children the catechism, as well as the books of the Bible, Bible verses, and a Bible timeline.

Another curriculum you may wish to make use of is this one, laid out by Pastor Alexander Ring:

CATECHISM CURRICULUM

PRE-K
Be able to recite the Lord’s Prayer. The Commandments & Creed taught, but not necessarily memorized.

KINDERGARTEN
Learn the Commandments & Lord’s Prayer. Cover the Creed.

GRADES 1 & 2
Know the Commandments.
Know the Creed.
Be able to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

GRADES 3 & 4
Know the Commandments & their meanings.
Know the articles of the Creed & meanings.
Know the Lord’s Prayer & Petitions (with meanings).
Know Baptism (gr 4, though may wish to leave “Power of Baptism till gr 5).

GRADES 5 & 6
Know the Commandments & their meanings.
Know the articles of the Creed & meanings.
Know the Lord’s Prayer & Petitions (with meanings).
Know Baptism.
Know Office of the Keys.
Know Sacrament of the Altar (gr 6).

GRADES 7 & 8
Know the Commandments & their meanings.
Know the articles of the Creed & meanings.
Know the Lord’s Prayer & Petitions (with meanings).
Know Baptism.
Know Office of the Keys.
Know Sacrament of the Altar.

However you choose to approach teaching the Catechism to your children, note well that this study is not for their benefit alone. It is for yours as well! In his preface to the Large Catechism, Luther writes,

“I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning—and whenever I have time—I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish. But I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so.”

So too may we ever remain children and pupils of the catechism!


Amanda Moldstad is a co-founder of the Lutheran Homeschool Association. She and her husband, John, homeschool their five children in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

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