Sunday, May 29, 2011

What should our children be learning in Religious Education classes?

I developed the following about a dozen years ago in response to the question of what our children should be learning each year. The following are my thoughts and I am open to suggestions for modification.


What should our youth know when?

Here are some thoughts about what our Catholic children should know as they develop in our faith. These ideas cover a holistic approach to formation. It includes elements of prayer, doctrine and morals.

a. Be able to pray Prayer to the Guardian Angel, Sign of the Cross
b. Know that God loves them

1st Grade
a. Be able to pray above prayers plus Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory Be
b. Know God loves them

2nd Grade
a. Be able to follow the missalette through Mass
b. Understand God’s forgiveness and our need for reconciliation
c. Be ready to receive the sacrament of Penance
d. Know the above prayers plus the Act of Contrition, and meal prayers
e. Know that the bread and wine at Mass become Jesus
f. Have a concept of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead
g. Have a sense of spontaneous prayer
h. Have an idea of what grace is
i. Be prepared to complete the sacraments of initiation

3rd Grade
a. Know the difference between Old and New Testaments
b. Be familiar with the 10 commandments – Know what’s right and wrong
c. Be able to list the 7 capital sins: Pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth
d. Apostle’s Creed
e. Know what a saint is
f. Know who their patron saint is
g. Have an understanding of who Mary is and her relationship to our faith and prayer life
h. Know the parts of the Mass
i. Be able to genuflect properly and know why we genuflect – same with other liturgical gestures

4th Grade
a. Know how to pray the Rosary and all associate prayers
1. Apostle’s Creed
2. Our Father
3. Hail Mary
4. Glory Be
5. Hail, Holy Queen
b. Know the difference between and Epistle and a Gospel
c. Know what the Stations of the Cross are about
d. Have spent more time recognizing what sin is in their lives and the need for reconciliation with God and one another
e. Understand how to make an examination of conscience before going to bed each night
f. Understand the need to support the church through time, talent and treasure
g. Be able to identify the seven sacraments

5th Grade
a. Know the difference in the Old Testament between the writings of the prophets, the law, and history (Will not necessarily be able to associate a particular book with a particular style)
b. Be able to put the given parts of the Mass in proper order on a time-line, i.e., Lord’s Prayer, Gospel, Homily and the penitential rite.
c. Know the seven sacraments more in depth and when they may be or should be received
1. What are the sacraments of initiation, commitment and healing?
2. When would one request one of the sacraments of healing?
d. What is a martyr? Name one
e. What is a Church Father? Name one
f. Have a deeper understanding of the Eucharist. Why are we required to fast for an hour before communion? Why shouldn’t we be chewing gum?

6th Grade
a. Understand the similarities in the obligations between the sacraments of commitment, i.e., matrimony and holy orders
b. Know what a vocation is, start talking about vocations to married life, single life, priesthood and religious life
c. Understand the difference and relationship between a sister, brother priest, monk
d. Be able to identify at least 10 saints and tell what they did – this should include the patron of the parish

Junior High
a. Be able to explain the hierarchy of the Church
1. What is the relationship between a priest, bishop, archbishop and the pope
2. What is a cardinal
b. Be able to explain the liturgical year and seasons
c. Be able to explain how Oral Tradition supports the Written Tradition handed down in the Scriptures.
d. What are the cardinal and theological virtues?
e. Be able to name and list in order all of the major elements of the Mass
f. Have a sense of wonder before our God made flesh – have reverently attended Exposition and Benediction with an understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and presence. There should also be an understanding of what is taking place

High School
a. Be able to discuss why the Church requires us to be at Mass on Sunday
b. Still be able to recite the prayers learned as a youngster
c. Have reviewed and still be able to understand the items learned through Jr. High
d. Have an understanding of the church’s teachings on sexuality. Some of this may be covered in Jr. High
1. What is chastity?
2. What is abstinence?
3. What is the church’s teaching on birth control? How did it develop? What are the arguments used to explain the importance of this teaching?
e. Have an understanding of the differences between spirituality and religious beliefs
f. Know the proper liturgical names of for the things found in the Church
g. Be living out the baptismal commitment of service to Christ and one another through the Church


Anonymous said...

I know far too many adult Catholics who cannot answer most of those questions. Sadly, given my RCIA experiences, i must wonder whether some of the RCIA teachers could answer all of those questions.

In my RCIA we were not taught very much. Some of what we were taught was actively in opposition to thr church teachings... and the most grievous of that was by the Priest!

We should have a "know your Catholic Church and Faith" class for adults.... which would cover this. i am STILL never completely clear on the church heirarchy, it was never explained in RCIA....

kkollwitz said...

I have been teaching 6th grade Religious Ed for 7 years now. It's interesting how our outlines differ. Due to our location in a Fundamentalist part of the Bible Belt, my year starts with 26 classes on the Bible, teaching sraight from the Bible, from Genesis to Revelations, with a focus on the Bible's Catholicity.

The last 3 classes are spent on the Mass, teaching directly from the Missalette, with an emphasis on the Biblical elements therein.

In order to hold fast to the faith and evangelize here, Catholics must have a working knowledge of the Bible and Catholicism as an integrated whole.

Anonymous said...


the Wife said...

As a Catholic interested in having a deeper faith and understanding of my faith what would you recommend studying? I plan to start to make sure I know everything on your list and have talked to my priest about adult classes. At one time to be confirmed I understand you had to pass a written test, is that test available somewhere. I would love to read through it and study more about topics I have not given enough thought to. Espcecially with Lent coming up I to do more than proclaim my faith, I want to live and understand it.

Leo McDowell said...

@the Wife,
Some of the best resources I've found for understanding the Catholic faith are provided by the Knights of Columbus via their Catholic Information Service. You can find a link to their materials here