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Love Will Guide Us is for children in second and third grade. 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 from seven-, eight-, and nine-year-olds can be quite helpful, especially to first-time leaders.
In Nurturing Children and Youth: A Developmental Guidebook (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005), Tracey L. Hurd discusses developmental characteristics of school-age children. She notes that by age seven, children's learning disabilities and behavioral or psychological issues may have appeared and been identified. Individual learning styles and strengths may also be apparent. Children who need glasses often get their first pair around this age.
In a section on moral development, Hurd notes that the typical child in this age group is "passionately interested" in moral issues:
She seeks what is fair and right... By developing games with rules, playing sports, or creating or belonging to clubs, the school-age child practices figuring out what is fair... This play is practice for more generalized moral decision making.
In general, children in second or third grade are:
Hurd offers a variety of strategies that speak to these developmental considerations and may help you shape your sessions effectively. You can:
By adapting activities or using alternate activities, you can make every session inclusive of children with a range of physical and cognitive abilities, learning styles, food allergies, and other needs or limitations. As you plan sessions, be aware of activities that might pose difficulties for children who are differently abled. All spaces, indoor and outdoor, need to be accessible to participants and leaders. Check the width of doorways and aisles, the height of tables, and the terrain of outdoor landscapes.
Find out about participants' medical conditions and their allergies, particularly to food. Session 1 includes multiple activities that involve a variety of seeds. Make sure all the children can eat any ingredients in any food you plan to provide. An activity in Session 10 includes live animals, which may be problematic for a child with allergies.
Each session mixes active and quiet, expressive and listening, whole group and individual activities. As you recognize different learning styles among participants, let this information guide your plan of each session. Substitute alternate activities for core activities if you feel they better suit the group.
Every session references a Fidget Basket—a basket of manipulable objects, such as pipe cleaners or clay, which can keep restless hands and minds busy. Make fidget objects available when you feel that some or all of the children may have difficulty sitting through longer periods of listening or discussion. Find more information in the Before You Start section of this Introduction and in Session 1, Leader Resource 4, Fidget Objects.
Including All Participants notes specific concerns and/or suggests adaptations to make an activity fully inclusive. You are encouraged to devise your own adaptations as needed. As the leader, you know best how to provide a fully inclusive learning experience for the group. If you have questions about the accessibility or adaptability of a particular activity, please ask your religious educator for advice. A helpful resource available from the UUA Bookstore is Sally Patton's Welcoming Children with Special Needs.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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