“We need a definition of spirit and spirituality that is separate from religion and religious education,” writes Amelia Richardson Dress, in an article that forms the basis of a new title in the Exchange Reflections collection, “Spirit and Spiritual Development.” Our Exchange team, looking for good food-for-thought articles, felt this topic is one that could be especially helpful during this challenging time.
Dress goes on to explain, “Leanne Hadley, whose work supporting children in crisis has been groundbreaking for both religious and secular professionals, uses this definition when she is working with children: ‘Spirit is the thing within us that makes us us. Spirituality is the way we connect our ‘inner us’ to everything else, including other people’s inner ‘usness.’ This understanding helps us think creatively about how to approach spirituality while respecting a child’s home culture. It also enables us to clearly identify our goal, in order to determine if we are achieving it. While it is extremely difficult to measure the ‘spirit’ of a child in the same way we might measure physical or academic growth, there are indicators of spirituality that we can look for in our classrooms and the children.”
Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a "Making Commitments" idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.
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I do agree. I have no academic degree on ECD. But I was trained up as a trainer and ultimately reached to the position of ECCD Specialist. My supervisor would ironically address me 'Father of parenting'. I am not sure, may be my acute feeling for children and keen observation on their growth and development ignited my spirit of 'inner me' and prompted me in supporting parents in their understanding and supporting children in their development.
Dear Amelia Richardson Dress and others, my name is Deb Schein and several years ago I asked myself the same question about how to define spiritual development for young children...so I began a doctoral program and conducted research where I interviewed ECE asking them what spirituality in young children means to them. The research resulted in a definition of spirituality as a system that includes love, developing a sense of self, relationships, wonder, empathy and much more. You can find my work in a book titled: Inspiring Wonder, Awe, And Empathy: Spiritual Development in Young Children. My work has grown to over lap with nature, play, and peace education. Certainly, creativity is a part of all of this as is risk, reverence (understanding and embracing rules and responsibilities), and respect for others and the earth. I am beginning to see spiritual development of young children as a foundation for all learning.
NAEYC's Young Children's Spirituality Interest Forum has relevant resources at its web page, https://hello.naeyc.org/communities/community-home?CommunityKey=87f47142-bb5f-4964-93c4-6d5e1d432950, and there's a Young Children's Spirituality Facebook Page.