Religious Education from Foundation to Year 8
Complementing the year-level descriptions of the curriculum, this document provides advice on the nature of learners and the relevant curriculum across the following groupings:
- Foundation to Year 2—typically, students from 4 to 7 years of age, beginning with Kindergarten in Tasmania
- Years 3 to 6—typically, students from 8 to 12 years of age
Foundation to Year 2
Young children (4 to 7 years of age) are naturally spiritual and “in love” with mystery. During the “early years” of their education, they are encouraged to wonder, ponder, and develop a capacity to ask questions about themselves, their families, their friends and the ever-increasing circles of concern beyond themselves. God is introduced as loving creator who creates in every moment by loving everything into being, who can be known in the stillness and quiet of prayer. Jesus is introduced to the children as God’s way of showing us how much we are loved by God, by becoming like our own brother, who lived in a human family and learned all the things that children need to learn. They engage with the idea of the Church as a celebrating and praying community. The Word of God is shared in simple prayer practices. Sacred seasons and times are honoured with ritual prayer and Godly play. Students are encouraged to ponder prayerfully how the sacraments celebrate the presence of God in our midst. They are encouraged to pray for others, with them, and even to them (to the saints, that is, to ask them to pray for us) because we are all connected as one human family in many and varied ways, throughout time and in different places throughout the world.
Years 3 to 6
The children in this age group (8 to 12 years of age) are encouraged to treasure their capacity for wonder and awe, and to learn how to express their deep respect for mystery. They are invited to reflect on the mystery of their own being by seeing themselves as created in the image of a loving God who offers them wholeness and fullness of life. This mystery is opened up in the triune relationship of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus shares his Spirit with us, present also in the Church that celebrates and makes present his kingdom of justice and peace and joy. Students are taught how to reflect on their lives in a deepening relationship with the Scriptures as adult stories that they will continue to grow into as they become more and more capable of understanding them. They learn that through the sacraments they are nourished and encouraged to follow Jesus Christ, whose love for them enables them to make good choices and love others with the same compassion and gentleness with which Christ loves them. In these years students increasingly engage with the idea that God offers a pattern for a just and compassionate world, even though people often don’t understand or often reject that pattern. As they broaden their understanding of the wider community, children are also supported to see that the Catholic Church respects and works with all who search for truth about the mystery of God.
Years 7 to 10
These students in an age range from 10-15 years, may be described as young adolescents. This is a time of great diversity and capacity among students as they grow through a period of dramatic changes in body and mind. Although the differences between students are many there are still some general characteristics that may be evident:
- It is a crucial time to encourage engagement with academic learning.
- Often strong willingness to learn is displayed especially when the learning is useful and real and involves problem-solving.
- The peer group is a strong influence providing a framework of reference.
- Active learning is preferred, especially learning in collaboration with peers.
- Socially they are moving away from the family, becoming more independent and developing their own views and ways of behaving.
- They still need the loving affection, affirmation and security of significant adults.
- Adult values, ideals and commitments are being shaped and it is a crucial time for interactions with adults or peers.
New intellectual capacities become obvious with students as they become more capable of reasoned thought in which they interpret data, predict, generalise and draw conclusions. They begin to experiment with a range of roles as they seek to clarify personal identity. The conventions of the peer group provide a powerful framework for interpreting the world and making meaning.
Students in the secondary years need support to develop intellectual frameworks by which they reflect on experience and search for personal meaning in the light of faith tradition. For these years the curriculum invites the learner to encounter God revealed in Jesus present in the world, fully human and fully God. Jesus calls his followers to discipleship. The Church is revealed as proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and is missionary and prophetic, challenging injustice and proclaiming that all of creation is intended for ‘fullness of life” (Jn 10: 10). Students in year 7-10 study and pray with the scriptures, encountering the Bible as a text of inspiration and challenge. The Sacraments are explicitly taught across age levels revealing the sacramentality of life culminating in the study of the Eucharist as the source and summit of Catholic life. Students are encouraged to pray and explore the teachings of Catholic spiritual writers to foster habits of prayer, knowing that effective prayer transforms and leads to a deeper love of God and one another. Christian life is explained as living in right relationship in the context of building the “Kingdom of God”. While the church celebrates diversity it seeks unity amongst all peoples.