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?
If you know me personally, you’ll know that I usually dislike dichotomies. I’d like my children to memorize the multiplication table and understand why the multiplication algorithm provides the correct answer. They don’t need to be able to do both of these things by age 8, but by the time they’re twenty, I hope they know what eight times seven is without skip-counting, and I hope they can deconstruct long division and tell you why it works.
Using Luther’s Small Catechism
I have the same feelings about faith formation. Memorizing Luther’s Small Catechism is a goal I have for my children (a process still underway in our household, as are mastering the multiplication tables and comprehending long division!), but that does not mean we stop with rote recitation. I also want us to practice having rich conversations about our faith and how God’s Word applies to our day-to-day lives.
The Luther’s Small Catechism for Kids curriculum is a helpful resource for families, churches, and schools seeking to engage students in deeper conversations about faith while exposing them to the treasure of a catechism which has been used to teach the faith to children and adults for five hundred years.
Luther’s Small Catechism has been a central piece of our homeschool devotional life since our first year of homeschooling when I read the Follow and Do books to my kindergartener and her three-year-old brother. As my kids have grown, so have their educational needs, and the resources we’ve drawn from in our homeschool and family devotional life have expanded. A few years ago, Luther’s Small Catechism for Kids was released, and it served as the perfect religion curriculum for our family at the time. During the 2021–22 school year, we used it as a backbone to our morning devotions with our third grader, first grader, and preschooler.
Teaching from the Catechism
Since then, CPH has released a companion student book and digital teacher guide to accompany this new edition of the catechism, enriching and expanding the resource for upper elementary students. This fall, my oldest two children and I worked through several of the lessons, utilizing the student book. Luther’s Small Catechism for Kids is divided into six units—one for each of the Six Chief Parts—with individual lessons for each component. For example, there is a lesson for each of the Ten Commandments, each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, and so on.
The student book provides a perforated, double-sided, full-color worksheet for each lesson. Each lesson has several extension activities that help kids think through the portion of the catechism being studied and review the concepts and Bible verses referenced. We spent about twenty minutes on each lesson. The difficulty level of the worksheet was perfect for my fifth grader, but stretched my child in third grade. Making adjustments as we went along, we skipped any portions that were too difficult or verbally answered questions instead of writing out the answers when needed. The digital teacher guide provides answers to the exercises and additional guidance for those who so desire. As my kids are already familiar with the catechism, these worksheets provided an excellent review and a way to apply the commandments and explanations they’ve been working to memorize to real-life situations.
In a Homeschool Setting
For homeschool families, I love the new Luther’s Small Catechism for Kids. If your children are around the ages of 8–13, the student book is likely to enhance your conversation and discussion time as you work through the catechism together. Both of my kids enjoyed the worksheets, and I felt that the increased discussion and interaction made the student book a welcome addition to our time. If you have students who are younger and not yet able to complete a worksheet without frustration, the method I used a few years ago of working through one lesson per week may be a better fit for your family. Everyone’s family and needs are unique. This is our sixth year of formal homeschooling, and our devotional routine needed a bit of “revitalizing” to hold my kids’ interest. If your family is in a similar situation, the chance to work through their own brightly colored student book as you study the catechism together could be just the thing.
In a School Setting
This resource is an easy, open-and-go addition to any upper-elementary classroom. While the lesson format is consistent from week to week, the dynamic content keeps each lesson fresh and relevant while making prep incredibly simple. Each lesson could be accomplished in thirty minutes, and the topics could be arranged in a different order to integrate with other curriculum already in use.
In a Church Setting
As I worked through these lessons with my kids, I had the recurrent thought that this could be the perfect Sunday School curriculum for many congregations. If you have a small number of kids in your church’s Sunday morning or weekday evening class and you desire to expose them to the basics of the faith in a conversational way from a robust yet open-and-go curriculum, I would highly recommend this resource.
Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism because he faced a biblically illiterate population: people who desperately needed to know the truth of God’s Word so they could cling to the promises of Jesus amidst a world that taught either despair or other ways to salvation. Our world is different from Luther’s in many ways, but in this it is much the same. While one of the obstacles separating the people of sixteenth-century Germany from God’s Word was illiteracy, our own generation is often separated by a flood of content and information that makes discerning the truth incredibly challenging. The simple, straightforward words of the catechism are as powerful and helpful for our families today as they were in Luther’s day, because these words are rooted in Scripture, and our fundamental need for a Savior is the same in this generation as in every other.
Try the Luther’s Small Catechism for Kids curriculum in your home, school, or church by ordering the teaching materials below.