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. A summary follows. Comments relating these characteristics specifically to the Toolbox of Faith curriculum appear in parentheses.
At the age of nine, ten, or eleven, a child:
Hurd's book also suggests some ways religious educators, leaders, and parents can offer support to the developing, older school-age child. Comments specific to Toolbox of Faith again appear in parentheses. Healthy strategies for support include:
Ministering to children with differences helps us be more creative in our ministry to all children and reaffirm our beliefs. Lessons of compassion, caring, and acceptance benefit us all, young and old alike. . . . We deepen our faith when we embrace and fight for the vision of an inclusive community.
(We) . . . have to learn from these people about compassion and forgiveness, persistence and courage, and most importantly, the wholeness of their spirit and the gifts they offer if we allow them to flourish. Listening to children's stories encourages us to see each child's uniqueness rather than their limitations . . . Parenting, loving, befriending, and ministering to children with special needs changes people. How we handle the change will either mire us in the prevalent belief system about disability and limitations, or it will set us free and alter our ideas about who we are and why we are here.
Patton's book does not merely inspire, it provides a strategy for congregations to engage in to institutionalize and internalize the spirit and justice of an inclusive faith community that deepens the faith of all participants. Consider reading this book and sharing it with a broad spectrum of congregational leadership.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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