While the heart of the catechesis for the child under six revolves around the Parable of the Good Shepherd, the elementary age child is captured by the image of the True Vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches, whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” The proclamation responds to the deep need of the older child to better know his/her relationship with God, family, friends, and the larger community.
The child at this age seeks guidelines. Moral parables offer a model for comparing their behavior with that of the Pharisee, the Tax Collector, or the Good Samaritan. The Found Sheep, the Found Coin, and the Prodigal Son are examined as the children prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation. The proclamation and meditation of these parables stress God’s love which is constantly forgiving.
The elementary children see the parts of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word, the Preparation of the Gifts, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Communion – as one unified prayer made of many smaller prayers. Children prepare for the celebration of First Communion through a series of communion meditations focusing on the relationship with Jesus.
The imagination of the older child and his/her agility with the concept of time are powerful stimuli to explore the past and the future. The first timeline, a ribbon fifty meters long, focuses on the unity and vastness of the History of the Kingdom of God. It illustrates the high points in the history of salvation from creation to redemption to Parousia. Another presentation focuses on the many gifts we receive from God – rocks, minerals, flowers, fruit, friends, family – cumulating in God’s gift of Self in the divine person of Jesus, a gift which will pervade the whole universe at the completion of history.
With the older child (ages 9-12), a third presentation of the history of salvation focuses on the plan of God in history as a plan of communion, a plan which links all people together through God’s love. The emphasis is on our response to this unfolding generosity of God and recognition of the responsibilities that come with receiving God’s great gifts and seeing oneself as a collaborator with God. “What is the kingdom of God and my place in it?” lays the foundations for a life commitment in relationship with God.