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Children this age often warmly include, then cruelly exclude, the same classmates. Primary children don’t care so much about having the same brands of clothing as other kids or being able to do the same activities. Their primary concern is to have friends and belong.Primary children benefit from learning about social, ethnic, and cultural groups different from their own. Good News encourages empathy and learning to respect others’ points of view by having children hear stories about children from other cultures and social backgrounds, work in groups to solve dilemmas, proclaim the Gospel in drama form, and respond to the actions of the characters in Jesus’ stories.AbiliTy To syMbolizeLike their thinking ability, primary children’s ability to make and interpret symbols is concrete and literal. In developing the ability to think concretely, theprimary child will understand God concretely in human terms. For a younger child, God is magical and mystical. A second grader will understand God’s love as being like the love of parents, teachers, or friends. Primary children will draw God as a human person perhaps bigger or taller or older than other humans but still human. Younger children tend to show God as air or sunlight. Such an illustration, though seemingly abstract, represents an as yet vague and unformed perception of the world. The primary child brings all of his or her concrete thinking ability and sense experiences to explaining God.Primary-age children cannot understand symbols but can enter into them; they can experience the importance shown the Bible by opening it at the beginning of class and closing it at the end. They can experience the warmth and gathering power of a candle at the center of a prayer service. But primary children cannot understand a candle as a symbol of Jesus’ risen presence; they will understand literally that Jesus is a candle.participation in the community’s liFe nurtures FaithsAcrAMenTAl prepArATionIn preparing children for First Communion, catechists and teachers have to consider the concreteness of primary children’s thinking and symbolizing abilities. We want to share our belief that the consecrated bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ. The National Catechetical Directory guidelinesdirect us to help the children understand that this bread is different from any other bread. However, the children don’t observe any concrete change in the bread, so what can they make of what we tell them?The best approach to helping the children beginto understand that they receive the body of Christin Communion is to teach them about the Church, the People of God, who have gathered and continue to gather around the risen Jesus. The children can experience Eucharist as a celebration of believers who remember that Jesus died and rose, as a meal shared by friends and started by Jesus before he died, and as a special food through which Jesus gives us his new life.Second graders can only begin to understand that they receive the Body of Christ in Communion. They must continue to share the faith of their parents and teachers. First Communion is a celebration of sharedfaith, of the parish together—young and old, parent and teacher—sharing and becoming the Body of Christ.First Reconciliation needs to feature God’s generous love and forgiveness, help young children distinguish loving and unloving actions, and stress Jesus’ positive expectations of his followers. It should introduce the concept of sin but recognize primary children are unable to sin. They cannot foresee consequences adequately to be deliberately sinful. First Reconciliation preparation is only the firststep in a lifelong call to conversion in the Christian community.Parishes that restore the order of the Sacraments of Initiation usually prepare children for both Confirmation and First Eucharist in secondgrade. The Rite of Confirmation puts the age for Confirmation at the same age as First Eucharist (#11). Canon law calls to celebrating Confirmation at “about the age of discretion,” but allows national bishops’ conferences to set a different age (canon #891).As a Sacrament of Initiation, Confirmation introduces and welcomes children to life in the Spirit of God. Receiving the Sacrament does not

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