Children and their spiritual lives
Children and their spiritual lives - that’s exactly what Faith & Play is all about. Each lesson might well be called a meeting for worship with attention to story and to the Spirit’s ongoing activity in children’s lives.
Adults do not need to give children a spiritual life; each child already has one and knows much more than he or she has words to express. The method helps children access their spiritual lives and it gives them words and images for expressing what they experience of the holy each day.
The storyteller and doorkeeper create and maintain an open, safe and welcoming classroom environment that nurtures wonder and loving community through, among other things,
- slowly paced storytelling,
- invitations to prayerfulness and mindfulness as each child enters the room,
- carefully placed periods of silence,
- gentle gestures and slow movements of story materials,
- invitations to wonder out loud and
- validation of each child’s sharing.
Together these serve to draw children deeply into their own individual and corporate experience of God as they hear and watch the story. Even children who are otherwise disruptive, or who are unusually withdrawn, often participate in the lessons with focused attentiveness.
Through their responses to experiential wondering questions, children have opportunities to express where they find themselves in the stories. Their “wonderings” can be surprisingly profound.
Other components of Faith & Play that help children access and express their spiritual lives include
- community building,
- creative expression using art materials,
- individual story work/play using story materials,
- responsible stewardship of the classroom space and, perhaps most importantly,
- an ongoing rhythm of communal listening, worship and sharing.
Teacher training weekends, followed by hands-on classroom experience, are invaluable for developing the skills to use these resources effectively to draw out children’s spiritual lives.