Children's Catechism Class

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Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
I will be teaching 5-12 year old children the Catechism's questions regarding Christ's three offices. I have them for an hour. I have never done this with this age group before, and I struggle interacting with and keeping the attention of children. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to make this enjoyable?
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
I teach catechism to the 12 year olds from our church each week. I've been doing it (at various churches) since I was in seminary (20+ years). I think one of the key things is to try and keep a sense of humour. Not about your material, but in how you interact with the kids. Don't take yourself too seriously. Be personal and personable.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
I teach catechism to the 12 year olds from our church each week. I've been doing it (at various churches) since I was in seminary (20+ years). I think one of the key things is to try and keep a sense of humour. Not about your material, but in how you interact with the kids. Don't take yourself too seriously. Be personal and personable.
I completely agree here. I regularly teach our children in our church as well. For them, I try to make learning fun and enjoyable, I let them interact, we do games, we sing fun songs, I try to get them laughing as much as possible, etc. I would say as much as you can get the children to talk and participate, while having fun and teaching truth, this is the way to go.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
This is good advice. At the same time, I already knew that I need to get children engaged. That's why I posted the question. I would like to know how. What specific things have y'all done in the past?
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
I normally bring in my guitar to memorize the scripture for the day. I'll normally try to do a game with the kids focused around the lesson, that helps bring meaning out of the lesson in a practical way. Maybe you can let the kids pick some songs they want to sing, maybe you can do some brain games like trivia. If the kids are young enough, you can do random games like duck duck goose, would you rather be?, Or do an art project that has to do with the lesson. I also do a snack time with the kids when I am ready to teach them the important truths, so they are quiet and I have their attention. If you are having them memorize a Bible verse you can go down the row of kids in the room and have them each say one word from the verse, and just go around and around to help the words stick in their brain. Just some ideas!
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I teach 6-10. The wide age-range makes it very difficult. The best thing I've found to do is essentially teach two classes at the same time by splitting the activities into two. For the youngest, I have coloring for them to do, and a word search for the ones who can read. Keeping their hands busy strangely helps them to focus better and sit still. For the older children, I give them worksheets and a word search. The worksheet reflects the material for the day, and if I have time, I go through and ask them what they answered for the worksheet. I try not to lecture for too long but will ask the children frequent questions about what I am teaching to test how well they are listening (sometimes, I'll ask the question of the group; sometimes, I'll ask them to answer as a group; sometimes, I'll ask an individual student, especially if they seem like they are not paying attention).

If I had an hour, I would probably do more of the following (I do it a tad now and then)....

-Get the children kinetically involved in a fun way, e.g., have them stand up when reciting catechism or Scripture memory; recite the memory verses/catechism qs super fast, and then super slow, and then at a normal pace. Or have them make certain hand gestures or body movements that reflect whatever is being spoken of.

-Have some crafty thing to do for the youngest. Maybe have the older children collaboratively solve some sort of puzzle relevant to the material, e.g., cut up the catechism q words in pieces of paper and have them assemble it in the correct order; have them fill out a genealogy of the patriarchs.

-Have some catchy vocal way to remember the main material. E.g., I would say prophet, priest, and king with a different and emphatic and more drawn out sort of voice, and I might make them say the words with me whenever I said them.

Anyway, those are some specifics. Generally, you just need to do what others have already said.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
A handful of scattered thoughts...

That's a wide age range, which is difficult for many teachers. You might be tempted to simplify things for the sake of the younger ones, but that's the wrong strategy. You MUST engage the older ones. If you lose the older students, you lose the class. But if the older students are engaged, the younger ones will follow and try to keep up. So, as an example, although I love Songs for Saplings and am glad to see them get a shout-out here, I probably would not use Dana's songs with your group because those songs are aimed at younger kids and you risk signaling to your older students that they can check out.

You have a tough topic for kids. Even the oldest ones still think more concretely than adults, so take your teaching beyond concepts and make it about real people. Use the Bible's stories. Teach about real prophets, real priests, and real kings in the Bible—and then show how they point ahead to Jesus and how Jesus is better. If I were assigned to teach prophet/priest/king to kids, I might teach through the opening half of 1 Samuel. Seriously. Because that part of the Bible shows, in concrete terms, how we need a good prophet, priest, and king. You will use the catechism too, of course, but adding some story makes things concrete, and kids need that to be engaged.

Think about how to be visual. If you aren't teaching visually, most kids will not be engaged. For every key point you tell, have a corresponding way you show that truth. This is not about being cutesy, but about having something that engages the eyes as well as the ears.

Ask thoughtful, well-prepared questions that have more than one good answer. Then listen carefully to how your students answer, and engage with their answers. Obvious-answer questions are deadly and signal that you aren't really interested in what your students are thinking. Not really stopping to listen to their answers (probably because you're thinking about the right answer you already have in mind) is also a sign you aren't interested in your students. Kids are engaged when you are truly interested in what they are thinking.

Since you have an hour, think of several ways to reinforce each lesson. Besides direct teaching times, you might have written activities, games, songs, something creative. And I think you should spend a good chunk of the time praying with your students. The prayer time doesn't have to connect directly to each lesson's topic; just take time to pray as a class. It's how we practice faith and acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, and it's an opportunity for you to connect with your students if you also discuss what to pray about. Make this time relaxing and unpressured. Enjoy learning about their lives and finding out how your class can pray for each other and for your church, and then pray together. If some kids prefer not to pray aloud, that's okay. You can do the actual praying. Jesus' own method of children's ministry was to gather kids around him and pray for them (Matthew 19:13).
 
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Zach

Puritan Board Junior
Others likely have more experience and better advice but I'll simply try to reinforce what they say and offer some of what my wife and I gleaned when we taught the Children's Catechism to 3rd-5th Graders during my internship.

Above all, be enthusiastic! If the kids know you don't want to teach them the Catechism they certainly won't want to learn the Catechism. Also, make it as fun as possible without compromising on core objectives. One of the things we did was take them out to play "Catechism Four Square" which was simply regular foursquare but if you didn't answer your review question right you also got out. Because this was the primary way we reviewed, it had the added benefit of "wearing them out" before we went inside and did the new questions and a lesson and because this was what the kids obviously enjoyed most we did it for as long as we could while still leaving time for the lesson. Finally, set the bar as low as possible (while still meeting your core objective) and find ways to encourage and reward as much as possible. The reality for us was that some kids parents' were teaching them the Catechism and other's weren't. It's not really the kids fault if they can't remember the questions because their home life is chaotic and/or their parents don't teach them. So the church incentivized memorization for the kids and families and then we just tried to make it so we could encourage and reward as much as possible.
 

Santos

Puritan Board Freshman
We do a Catechism & Bible study class typically 5 nights a week in my home. My 3 youngest children are 9,11, and almost 13. I started the 2 younger on the Children's Catechism and the older on the Shorter/Keach's catechism going on 3 years ago. I will often throw in some Early Church history and history of the Reformer's ( such as the Claymore Sword wielding, prison ship paddling John Knox) and they really enjoy hearing about those who came before us. Sometimes we watch little shorts on YouTube such as Martin Luther -The Animated Movie - English - YouTube .
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Thank you all for your advice and encouragement. We had the first class last night. It went very well. The kids were super engaged, and they now know what offices Christ doth execute as our Redeemer. :)
 
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