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As catechists and teachers prepare for the start of the Gospel Weeklies program year, it’s helpful to consider the stage of development of the children they will be teaching. This is valuable for parents too! Below are some notes on child development from the Resource Manuals. Find the full manuals by scrolling to the bottom of the level pages for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions.
Three- and four-year-old children learn from interacting with their environment through their senses. They are comfortable with concrete objects and familiar experiences. At the same time, their imaginations are without limit and their minds are curious. They are eager to learn, explore, and investigate.
Kindergarten and first grade are benchmark years for children. They begin having their own school lives apart from the family. They are very ego-centered because their awakening sese of self is so new. Group activities and games enable the children to play together during this egocentric stage.
The social world of the primary child grows beyond the family. Cooperative work challenges children of this age because they are each the only center of their attention. Working on group activities is difficult, but these children will work well individually and sometimes in pairs.
A bargaining, back-scratching mentality is typical of the moral thinking of middle-grade children. Theirs is a concrete world in which they want to know what they have to give and what they will get before they make moral choices. These children often have a fierce sense of fairness.
In their early teens, young people begin developing their ability to think and symbolize abstractly. They begin being able to generalize with help, apply conclusions, have a sense of history, and go beyond literal levels of symbols with more ease. They are able to begin learning the rational foundations of doctrine.
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