The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Children's Catechesis: The ABCs of Children’s Catechesis

Authored by Sr. Mary Michael Fox, OP in Issue #10.1 of Catechetical Review

As children, many of us learned the “Alphabet Song.” It is a universally known jingle that helps small children learn the ABCs of the English language. Other cultures use a different tune but the purpose is the same. At the start, a child merely repeats the sounds sung to him. In due time, he gradually learns that the sounds have corresponding symbols. (During this developmental stage, children in a Montessori environment trace sandpaper letters, providing a heightened sensorial experience that strengthens the sound-symbol relationship in the child’s mind.) Once the child understands the sound-symbol relationship, he is capable of arranging the alphabet letters to form words, then sentences, and eventually entire paragraphs. One need not be a trained linguist to recognize a kind of pedagogy in this method of language acquisition. If we were to draw an analogy to children’s catechesis, we would find that there, too, is a kind of pedagogy for the acquisition of religious language—or there should be.

The 2020 Directory for Catechesis exhorts catechists to ensure that our “linguistic form” be appropriate for the persons receiving catechesis.[1] Where children are concerned, there is more to this task than merely paraphrasing doctrine. Children’s catechesis requires a unique pedagogy of language. First, there is a particular religious alphabet—fundamental doctrines—which serves as building blocks for the child’s faith. Second, there is a particular scope and sequence to doctrine—one that follows the child’s natural spiritual and intellectual development. Finally, the particular expression of doctrine should evoke a sense of wonder that sparks continuous investigation and meditation.



[1] See Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Directory for Catechesis (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2020), nos. 204–17.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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