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Participants (Love Connects Us)

This program is written for fourth- and fifth-grade children. You may find it useful to think about the developmental norms for this age group. Not all children arrive at each developmental stage at the same time, but knowing what to expect overall can be quite helpful, especially to first-time leaders.

In her book, Nurturing Children and Youth: A Developmental Guidebook (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005), Tracey L. Hurd lists characteristics of the older school-age child:

  • Uses gross and fine motor skills, which are almost fully developed
  • Enters puberty toward the end of school-age years (particularly girls)
  • Is influenced by media images
  • Engages in logical thinking
  • Practices cognitive skills of acquiring, storing, and retrieving information
  • Develops specific learning styles (auditory, visual, sensory, and/or kinesthetic)
  • Exhibits domain-specific intelligence (verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic, local/mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, or naturalist)
  • Engages in gender-specific play.

Faith Development Skills

  • Uses student identity and knowledge as sources of self-esteem
  • Engages peers and learns through mutual friendship
  • Comprehends the perspective of others
  • Works on developing racial, ethnic and gender identities and seeks peers' affirmation of these identities
  • Shows interest in concrete aspects of faith and religion
  • "Does" religion or spirituality by participating in traditions
  • Explores religious or spiritual ideas as a way of deepening faith.

Moral Development

  • Interested in moral issues/ what is fair and right
  • Practices figuring out what is fair when developing rules
  • Moral decision making is complex
  • Practices reconciling moral ideals with pragmatic realities
  • Demonstrates interest in broader moral issues
  • Reconciles the violence of the world with personal own moral code (e.g., violent video games)
  • Interest in knowing and living out moral ideas
  • Uses the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)
  • Wrestles with moral dilemmas in relationships
  • Demonstrates awareness of societal moral issues and interest in helping to solve community problems
  • Ponders increasingly complex moral and spiritual questions.

Integrating All Participants

A group can include children with a range of physical and cognitive abilities and learning styles, food allergies, and other sensitivities or limitations. Adapt activities or use alternate activities to ensure that every session is inclusive of everyone in the group.

Love Connects Us was developed primarily with the kinesthetic learner in mind, offering myriad activities involving both small motor control and large muscle groups. Many participants in this age range need to move and benefit from the opportunity to physically explore new concepts. However, some activities can present a challenge for children with limited dexterity or mobility. Assess the physical abilities of the group early in the program. Many activities have an Including All Participants section which offers specific adaptations to meaningfully include children with mobility and other limitations. Certain activities, in their Preparation section, will direct you to an Alternate Activity that is less physically active and may better engage children's musical or logical/mathematical intelligences.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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