Our world is ever so fond of dichotomies. One of the most time-honored of educational debates is the perennial question: Which is more important—memorization or comprehension?
When we teach children, we tend to simplify things. When we teach children about God, we want them to understand the truths we are communicating on their level in a way that is comforting, helpful, and life-giving for them. Today, I would like to propose that we use the “big words” of our faith when we teach our kids, preteens, and teenagers, whether that be in the home, in the church, or in a school setting. When it comes to terms like justification, sanctification, absolution, incarnation, Law, Gospel, atonement, resurrection, ascension, and so on, which ones have you taken the time to use and define with the young people in your life?
When I was growing up, my parents gave me an allowance so they could teach me how to manage money. They taught me how to use a bank account, save for big purchases, and tithe. It was not an extravagant amount of money. I remember when my allowance was a single dollar. On Saturday night, I would set out a dime by my church dress before going to bed. Then I’d put the dime in the offering plate at church the next morning. Now, parenting my own children, I feel at times that I am much less organized than my parents were. I have only recently started talking to my children about finances, and the fact that everything is digital and automated today makes it harder for me to model money management to them in ways they can visualize.
My mother once said, “The best children’s ministry a church can have is a solid, pastor-led adult Bible study.” Since that conversation, I’ve contemplated her words often, reflecting on the positive trickle-down effect of an adult Bible study in the life of families and congregations.
Children’s Bibles serve a useful purpose in our homes. From the time our firstborn was four months old (in other words, when we emerged from our sleep-deprived fog enough to realize it was possible to start an intentional bedtime routine), we have read Bible stories with our children before bedtime. We started with an illustrated beginner’s Bible, moving up to Bibles with more of the stories and more details as our kids get older. Now we go back and forth between the Bible and storybook Bibles (as we have a wider range of ages in our family).
Homeschooling takes a ton of work, but there are resources out there to help! Christa Petzold shares her favorite books for teaching the faith while homeschooling.
“Mommy, how do you get a baby in your tummy?” If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve been asked many sweet, innocent questions like this one that are hard to answer. The questions aren’t hard to answer because the answers are complicated, but they can feel hard to answer because of the importance of the topic. When explaining topics related to sex and marriage to our children, it is always a balancing act.
Recently I wrote this article about our catechism routine in our homeschool. As I was taking the time to think over my family’s rhythms, I found myself contemplating all the day-to-day ways we benefit from having pieces of the Small Catechism memorized in our household.
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the opportunity to be intentional about catechesis. I was homeschooled as a kid, and am now going through my second homeschooling journey, this time as the mom. I’m on my fourth year of “serious” homeschooling: this year we have a third-grader, a first-grader, a preschooler, and a one-year-old climbing around and keeping things interesting. Since the beginning, we have developed a rhythm of starting each school morning with devotions and catechism time.