Thursday, July 31, 2008

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Michael and I began teaching the Westminster Shorter Catechism to our older son two years ago. He has been blessed with a remarkable ability to memorize and has done well. This year we believed it was time to advance our younger son and allow him to memorize the Shorter Catechism as well. I was reluctant to make this move, not sure that he would enjoy the study and would tire out before memorizing even the first question and answer.

To help keep his interest, I sought out some teaching resources and really love two. First, The Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs, Volumes 1-4 set the 107 questions and corresponding answers to music. The composer and performer, Holly Dutton, has a beautiful, soothing voice, and both of my sons enjoy listening to her. The music is upbeat but simple and enjoyable. We find ourselves singing the song of the week throughout the day.

I begin on Monday by writing the catechism for the week on the board. We read, review, and briefly discuss it. Then, I play the song once for them, making them listen only. After this, we sing through with the words on the board for them to reference two or three times. On Tuesday, we sing the song three or four times and then I have each boy try to answer the question without looking at the written answer. We repeat this on Wednesday and Thursday. Then, on Friday, I place a sticker on a chart that corresponds with the catechism number if they can answer the question successfully.

On Friday night, Michael reads from our second resource, The Westminster Shorter Catechism for Study Classes by G.I. Williamson. This study provides a lesson on each question and answer, offering scripture proofs and review questions. Sometimes the lessons are above the boys' heads (sometimes they are above mine!), but they glean something each week.

This system is working so well that Michael and I intend to stick to it for the next three years during which time we will cover all 107 questions. Then, Lord willing, we intend to repeat the three year cycle. This will just happen to correspond with the boys' middle school years. And, then, we will repeat once more during their high school years.

I am journaling some of their responses to the study questions so I can look back and compare their answers in elementary school to their answers in later years. I look forward to experiencing the spiritual growth that the Lord will produce through this study.

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