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Nurturing the child’s 
spirit in ECE 
Presentation at the CECEAA National 
Conference, May 2012. 
Susan M.S.Batchelar
Defining the Terms 
O Spirituality 
Universal human 
characteristic. 
Free/unbounded. 
No system of beliefs 
O Religion 
O...
Te Whāriki’s Aspiration for 
Children 
“to grow up as competent and confident 
learners and communicators, healthy 
in min...
Spirituality and Children’s 
Search for Meaning 
“What am I here to 
give?....What am I here 
to learn?” (Hart, 2003, pp. ...
Spirituality and Children’s 
Search for Identity 
“even the best 
of…circumstances will 
not be helpful if…children 
do no...
Spirituality and Children’s 
Relationships 
O “The centrality of relationships is 
paramount…teachers need to support and ...
Spirituality and Culture 
O “When I talk with a child ... I do not just see 
that child in front of me. I see all the peop...
Fostering Spirituality in an 
Early Childhood Centre 
Compassion 
Social Justice 
Quiet reflection 
Awe and Wonder
Compassion 
“This…puts emotions 
at the centre of one’s 
spiritual life and 
experiences” 
(Bellous & Csinos, 2009, p. 216...
Social Justice 
“It is what one does, 
not what one says, that 
is seen as central to 
one’s spiritual life” 
(Bellous & C...
Quiet Reflection 
“silence, stillness and 
reflection are qualities 
that are often absent 
from children’s 
lives….[they]...
Awe and Wonder 
O “A consideration of 
the vastness of the 
universe strikes awe 
in us” (Hay & Nye, 2006, p. 
71).
Thoughts to Ponder 
Is your centre environment spiritually 
nurturing? 
What is one thing you can do? 
How can you provide...
When you examine the lives of the 
most influential people who have 
walked among us, you discover 
one thread that winds ...
References 
Ayres, D. A. (2004). Relating for learning: Teaching to nurture children's 
spiritual growth (Unpublished doct...
Fraser, D. (2007). State education, spirituality and culture: 
teachers' personal and professional stories of negotiating ...
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Nurturing the child's spirit in an early childhood centre.

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This presentation is adapted from one presented to a conference for Christian early childhood educators in NZ. It presents a brief overview of some of the literature around children's spirituality, and suggests ways in which early childhood educators can support children's spirituality through everyday practice in their centres.

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Nurturing the child's spirit in an early childhood centre.

  1. 1. Nurturing the child’s spirit in ECE Presentation at the CECEAA National Conference, May 2012. Susan M.S.Batchelar
  2. 2. Defining the Terms O Spirituality Universal human characteristic. Free/unbounded. No system of beliefs O Religion One expression of spirituality? Requires Faith. Boundaries. Clear system of beliefs
  3. 3. Te Whāriki’s Aspiration for Children “to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society” (Ministry of Education, [MoE], 1996, p. 9).
  4. 4. Spirituality and Children’s Search for Meaning “What am I here to give?....What am I here to learn?” (Hart, 2003, pp. 181 - 189). Spirituality is: “one’s concern for the ultimate meaning and purpose of life” (Estep Jr. & Breckenridge, 2004, p. 329, emphasis original).
  5. 5. Spirituality and Children’s Search for Identity “even the best of…circumstances will not be helpful if…children do not esteem themselves as worthwhile people” (Hay & Nye, 2006, p. 150). Spirituality is “a deep sense of identity and authenticity” (Sewell, 2009, p. 6).
  6. 6. Spirituality and Children’s Relationships O “The centrality of relationships is paramount…teachers need to support and nurture…children’s relationships with each other” (Hyde, 2008, p. 167) O "teachers … are perfectly positioned to nurture their students' spiritual growth” (Ayres, 2004, p. 180). O “Spiritual formation is…a result of influences from all environmental systems in which the child participates. Of primary interest [are the]…relationships between contexts” (Estep Jr. & Breckenridge, 2004).
  7. 7. Spirituality and Culture O “When I talk with a child ... I do not just see that child in front of me. I see all the people connected with that child, going back generations” (Fraser, 2007, p. 295). O “Religious, spiritual, racial, ethnic, gender and class differences are realities that can neither be dismissed nor ignored when nurturing God’s children” (Crozier, 2008, p. 351).
  8. 8. Fostering Spirituality in an Early Childhood Centre Compassion Social Justice Quiet reflection Awe and Wonder
  9. 9. Compassion “This…puts emotions at the centre of one’s spiritual life and experiences” (Bellous & Csinos, 2009, p. 216)
  10. 10. Social Justice “It is what one does, not what one says, that is seen as central to one’s spiritual life” (Bellous & Csinos, 2009, p. 218)
  11. 11. Quiet Reflection “silence, stillness and reflection are qualities that are often absent from children’s lives….[they] are skills that need to be explicitly taught and practised” (Hyde, 2008, p. 162).
  12. 12. Awe and Wonder O “A consideration of the vastness of the universe strikes awe in us” (Hay & Nye, 2006, p. 71).
  13. 13. Thoughts to Ponder Is your centre environment spiritually nurturing? What is one thing you can do? How can you provide evidence of helping children to grow up healthy in spirit? How could you communicate this to parents/families/whānau?
  14. 14. When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature, and only then with their physical selves. Albert Einstein, 1879-1955.
  15. 15. References Ayres, D. A. (2004). Relating for learning: Teaching to nurture children's spiritual growth (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Massey University, Palmerston North. Batchelar, S. (2011). Supporting children's spiritual health in early childhood education (Master of Education Thesis). The University of Auckland, Auckland NZ. Bellous, J., & Csinos, D. M. (2009). Spiritual styles: creating an environment to nurture spiritual wholeness. International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 14(3), 213 - 224. doi:10.1080/13644360903086471 Crozier, K. (2008). Reimagining the spirit of children: A Christian pedagogical vision. In H. C. Allen (Ed.), Nurturing children's spirituality: Christian perspectives and best practices (pp. 341-354). Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. Estep Jr., J. R., & Breckenridge, L. (2004). The ecology and social dynamics of childhood spirituality. In D. Ratcliff (Ed.), Children's spirituality: Christian perspectives, research, and applications. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
  16. 16. Fraser, D. (2007). State education, spirituality and culture: teachers' personal and professional stories of negotiating the nexus. International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 12(3), 89- 305. doi:10.1080/13644360701714977 Hart, T. (2003). The secret spiritual world of children. Maui, HI: Inner Ocean Publishing Inc. Hay, D., & Nye, R. (2006). The spirit of the child (Revised ed.). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Hyde, B. (2008). Children and spirituality: Searching for meaning and connectedness. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Ministry of Education. (1996). Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early Childhood Curriculum. Wellington, NZ: Learning Media. Sewell, A. (2009). Evoking children's spirituality in the reciprocal relationships of a learning community. International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 14(1), 5 - 16. doi:10.1080/13644360802658685

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