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1The aiTh asks oF FTMiddle-Grade ChildrenCatechists are to “understand that children’s comprehension and other powers develop gradually, and present religious truths in greater depth and propose more mature challenges as the capacity for understanding and growth in faith increases.” National Directory for Catechesis, #48E2, page 206The young person Venture welcomes to the classroom community is a whole, growing human person who can participate in his or her own learning. This young person can reflect with others, talk and share, laugh and tease, cry and comfort, empathize and scoff,hurt and help, remember and dream, cooperate and manipulate, read and tell stories, sing and dramatize, think and choose.Venture nurtures middle-grade children in expanding their worlds beyond family, friends, and school to parish, neighborhood, and world. Venture richly provides young people concrete art and photos that introduce life in ancient Israel, in Jesus’ time, and in the ongoing life of the universal Church.Venture respects children as real persons who can already reflect on their experience and grow in their Christian commitment. Children are not insignificant somebodies who will be worth talking to when they grow up, but real people, whose everyday work is learning.Every child is unique. Each has different biological genes and experiences from their families and social worlds. However, child development psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson identify broad patterns of unfolding that happen in all children’s growth.Knowing how middle-grade children think, choose, symbolize, and relate to one another and to God can help catechists work with them effectively.Venture stories and activities ask children touse and stretch the capabilities typical of their age group in working at the faith tasks of middle-grade children. These tasks include:• participating actively in the Church’s sacramental life;• learning the stories of our ancestors in faith, the people of Israel;• reflecting on God’s love for us revealed in our lives and in Jesus, whose story the Gospels tell each Sunday at worship;• talking with God in prayer spontaneously and in shared common prayers; participating in prayer services with others; and• testing moral choices against the expectations of the Christian community which keeps the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ law of love.Intermediate-level children still think concretely. However, their concrete-thinking ability is maturing, making them industrious gatherers of concrete data. By 10 and 11, Venture-age children are approaching the threshold of abstract thinking.Middle-graders can understand cause and effect in the concrete world of their own experience. They can think well in narrative sequence, telling about their own experiences and retelling stories they know. They can relate stories to one another. They can classify and collect information. They can read, write, and do arithmetic.Children in the middle grades need concrete means of grasping abstract concepts and absorbing information about cultures and historical periodsConCrete thinking CharaCterizes Middle graders

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