’For a human being, especially a child or young person, to have a full quality of life, spirituality in all its aspects must be nurtured and affirmed’ (John Bradford). Our vision statement states that ‘we believe in the uniqueness and potential of each individual child’. A key part of that belief is to nurture children’s spiritual awareness and develop each child’s spiritual character.
What is spirituality?
Spirituality concerns a person’s relationship with themselves, with others, with God (or the transcendent), and with nature and the environment. These four elements: self; others; transcendence and beauty form the basis of our work with children in developing a strong sense of spirituality.
It is also vital that all of the adults in school also see the need to develop their own spirituality for their own wellbeing, and so that they can effectively support and help our children and each other.
The four elements - what these consist of:
- Awareness of feelings; ability to reflect and express
- Awareness of our uniqueness; happiness with who we are
- Gratitude for the things we have and the person we are
- Exploration of personal faith
- Development of imagination and creativity
- Empathy and understanding; respect, tolerance
- To love and be loved (loving your neighbour)
- Making a difference; duty
- Encountering/experiencing God (having a sense of what lies beyond the material/physical)
- Ability to formulate and discuss the ‘Big Questions’ (eg about life, death, suffering, nature of God)
- Opportunities for prayer, connecting with God
- Making sense of the world
- Developing a sense of awe and wonder
- Enjoying the miracles of everyday life
- Taking time for what really matters
- Appreciating beauty in art, music, nature
How we aim to develop a strong sense of spirituality
- Have regular time in the day for quiet and reflection. This might be listening to a story, lighting a candle in assembly, going for a walk
- Provide many opportunities for creativity and using the imagination
- Valuing play opportunities
- Singing often, especially with others.
- Ensuring regular time for prayer. This can take many forms, but should including being thankful, saying sorry. Allow children the opportunity to open themselves to God.
- Provide frequent opportunities for children to explore, express and share feelings. We use the SEAL structure to support this across the school.
- Constantly reaffirm the importance of relationships. How we talk to and relate with each other is fundamental.
- Provide opportunities to express awe and wonder, appreciate beauty in all its forms, and appreciate the connections and unity in the world
- Encourage each other to admit mistakes and to say sorry. Recognising and owning up to faults is an important healing and redemptive process.
- Encourage children to show kindness, caring and compassion, and to express these in practical ways. (eg: how we treat each other every day; charitable works; looking after pets)
- Explore the ‘Big Questions’ – particularly through our RE programme
- Read often to children, and give them opportunities to discuss and reflect. This includes both secular and religious texts, in particular the Bible
Structures to support and develop spirituality:
- Opportunities are planned across our curriculum. Spirituality is one of our 3 key themes
- Our reflective journals are used regularly as a focal point for reflection, and include RE and PSHE
- We have a planned programme for Collective Worship across the school. This maps out themes across the year, based on our school values and ‘Values for Life’
- There is a daily act of collective worship taking different forms, and involving children
- Displays and pictures around the school continually celebrate and encourage reflection and spirituality
- Our RE curriculum is inspiring and motivating
- Visits and visitors support all our work
Impact: how do we know this is being effective?
Spiritually developed children love and accept themselves and enjoy good relationships with each other. They take an interest and delight in the world around them; they are open to what lies beyond the material (this may manifest itself in faith/belief in God). They are able to express and understand feelings, they have a strong moral sense and a love of what is good. They are able to enjoy quiet and stillness, they possess an active imagination, and show joy in creativity and discovering new skills.
The Children's Spirituality
The children have drawn pictures to express their spirituality. Their thoughtful and reflective pieces of work show that each persons spirituality is unique.
Ben Sweetnam wrote the following piece about his spirituality picture below.
In the centre of my picture there is an earth. Each side of the earth shows something different. The bright green and blue half represents the people who care for the planet, like me. However, the other half represents the ones who litter and don't care abut the consequences that will happen. the colours around the edge of the planet are for the effect and how much of an impact it makes. Moving outwards, there are four unique people and the words, 'Unity in Diversity' these show that everyone is different but they are all humans. in the top left corner, there is a spherical shape filled with a variety of colours. Every single colour represents something:red is to represent anger and frustration; the orange represents happiness and joy for when I have done something well; green means confusion about my surroundings and finally, blue represents the sadness in my life. All of these put together creates me. Underneath, there is a goal net. This is here for my passion for football, I have also chosen it because I love the feeling when you do well as a team. To the right of this, there is a cross on a hill. This represents my faith - Christianity and how I love my Lord. I believe once you die, you to up to heaven to live with God. Finally, in the top right corner there's a clock, this shows I like keeping on time and knowing how long I have left.
Further reading on spirituality: