I recently discovered a fine blog called Bridges and Tangents. It's the work of Fr. Stephen Wang, an English priest.
In a recent post, he pondered a new fad sweeping France in which children between the ages of about 7 and 13 sit down at tea parties to discuss philosophy and the big questions of life.
Fr. Wang's take:
... I’ve always found that the best ages for deep reflection are about 3 and 10.
At 3, the most basic questions about reality, life and death come up. Then you attempt an answer, and the question comes back at you in a different form. It’s the ‘But why…?’ stage of life.
At 10, the same questions come up, but in a more considered way. There is a new intelligence and maturity, a new curiosity, still with a certain innocence, but without the hormones and herd mentality that seem to close down the possibility of thought during much of adolescence.
The most thoughtful and open discussions I’ve had about philosophy and religion have been with children in Year 5 in the British system – ages 9 to 10. That’s why it’s such a good age for religious catechesis. And why I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to move all the preparation for First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation to Year 5. (Discuss…)