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They use narrative sequence and the magic word because to explain cause and effect. A second-grader explains that she is eating more for lunch because her mother is going to have a baby and because she will be with her father and because he can’t cook very well. Her concrete logic is logic nonetheless.Primary children are very able to participatein their own learning. Second- and third-graders recognize and recall simple sequences with ease. Good News challenges children to use this skillto think as well as to recall. Primary children can recognize the real-life stories in Good News are about children like themselves. They can bringtheir own experience into class by talking about the memories the stories trigger for them. Stories can answer their why questions.Second- and third-grade children perceive in single focus. A classic example of single-focus thinking is the Piagetian experiment in which children fill a tall jar with water and pour the same amount into a short, wide jar. Children will conclude that the tall jar holds more by focusing only on the idea that taller is bigger, rather than being able to hold on to the idea that the same quantity of water went into both jars.When second-graders grab the tallest glass ofsoda or the biggest cookie they are acting in accord with their development and are not morally wrong. Single-focus thinking also leads them to associate new words such as leper with words they know concretely such as leopard.Primary children learn through their five senses. Remembering one’s early experiences of church can help catechists recognize what being a primary-aged, concrete thinker and learner is like. We remember sense experiences like the smell of incense, the rich colors of the saints in the stained-glass windows, the ringing of the bells, the designs on the ends of the pews.Children learn concretely also by doing—byacting out, by cutting and pasting, by drawing and painting, by making clay figures, by handling objects, by seeing pictures, by hearing stories. Children learn through experience—to pray by praying, to worship by worshiping, to share by sharing, to cooperate by cooperating, to love by loving and being loved.MorAl reAsoning AbiliTyTypically, second- and third-graders think outand make moral judgments with themselves and their concrete world at the center. Self-satisfaction motivates their thinking. Typically at this stage of moral development, children want something for themselves in return for choosing moral goods.A child will share if he or she gets something in return—a sip of a Blizzard for a swallow of Coke, a treat for being ready for bed. Some primary-age children remain longer in an earlier stage of moral development where the physical realities of reward and punishment shape their moral thinking.Primary children’s growth in moral reasoninglays the foundation of their later Christian behavior. The second- and third-graders to whom we teach Jesus’ challenge of self-giving are still into self-serving or back-scratching; they are egocentric and self- interested. Good News provides regular class practice in role playing and in moral reasoning that challenges children to practice empathy and giving as they grow toward more mature stages of moral development.sociAl DevelopMenTSocially, the primary child is not able to stand inthe shoes of another person. When a teacher or parent asks, “How would you feel if someone called you dumb?” primary children can say how they would feel, but others’ feelings and expectations do not change how they act. Young children do notyet connect how the other feels with how they act toward them. Some second and third graders begin to develop real empathy, but they see others as if the others were themselves, not the other way around.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. They do not want to color the same picture with someone else who won’tdo it right or as well. Working on group activities is difficult. Second and third graders work well individually and sometimes in partners.Primary children often play with a friend oneday and fight the next. Who’s boss? Who’s captain? Who’s king or queen of the hill? Who’s in? Who’s out? What’s fair? What’s not? These are the everyday questions of primary children. Their answers change with great fluidity.11

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