When a Child Tries to Get the Class Off-Track

reader question

I know it might be hard to believe, but occasionally a catechist will encounter a young person who intentionally tries to get the class—and the catechist—off-track. I was recently at a reunion for the high school where I taught back in the 1980s, and the topic of conversation turned to a former teacher who was a favorite of many students back in the day. One of the alums gleefully remarked, “We used to get him off-track sometimes for a whole period!”

So, what’s a catechist to do when this occurs? I fielded a question about this very topic during a webinar to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey. Here’s how I responded; I hope it’s helpful!

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. I am not sure how saying “I am going to take 5 minutes before class to make the time up” will work when a majority of the students are dropped off by their parents right at 6:30pm when class begins.

    • Very true, Darby, but I think Joellyn’s point was to carve out a few minutes whenever that can be done to devote attention to the child and the task at hand.

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