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  1. ‘Freedom to Wonder’ Developing Children’s Spirituality: Reflections on Practice Heather Black Accredited Trainer, Godly Play UK

  2. Our Context • North Ormesby a community close to the centre of Middlesbrough • Population approx. 4,500 • North Ormesby Community Primary School, approx. 200 pupils • St Alphonsus RC Primary School, approx. 230 pupils

  3. Reflections on Practice Five years working with local community primary school Sept 2009/10 a year-long longitudinal study for MA Dissertation, Durham University Three years of supporting local RC primary school Four years working with local special needs school

  4. In the beginning…. There was nothing! Something was created

  5. Key findings • Wondering • Respect for others • Understanding that others may see things differently • Inner peace • Ability to concentrate • Ability to work independently and discover for themselves Sowing some seeds School RE Coordinator Pilot study with a Year 2 class over two terms Benefits were seen across the curriculum

  6. The weekly sessions • Tuesday afternoons for 1.5 hours • All sessions in Godly Play room at Holy Trinity Church • Lead by accredited Godly Play leader with support from class teacher • Year 2 class, mainly white, almost all have little or no experience of church or the bible, one or two children from other faiths each year

  7. The weekly sessions • Crossing the threshold • Building the circle • Sharing the story • Wondering together • Freedom to wonder • Sharing a feast • Saying goodbye

  8. Creating space to wonder

  9. Creating space to wonder • “I wish I could live here all the time” • “I’m not ready to go in yet, can I go to the back and get ready again?” • “I love looking out at the garden and watching the water” • “I can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd all the time when I am here.”

  10. You are special and you are welcome • The Good Shepherd knows each of his sheep by name • Nurturing the call to relate to ourselves, to others and to God

  11. Sharing the story • The focus is on the story and the ability of the narrative ‘to speak’ • The significance of the artifacts • The attention of the children • Sharing the story from the heart

  12. Which part of the story do you like the best? • Which part of the story is most important? • Where are you in the story, or what part of the story is about you? • If there is any part of the story we can leave out and still have everything we need? Wondering together Four key questions that help to develop wondering I wonder……

  13. Wondering together • I wonder….. • Creating a space to discover together • Being attentive to the children in that moment • Being prepared to go to places you didn’t expect! • Being comfortable with maybe not knowing • Wondering becomes a way of being with children

  14. Wondering together • Making meaning with the story of the Exile • The chain is like a prison • I think a prison can be anywhere, my dad was in the army in the Gulf and it was like that for him • My grandadhas a prison in his bungalow (grandma had recently died and now Granddad was housebound)

  15. Wondering together • Exploring what is truly precious “The pearl of great price is a home, because if you have ever not had a home, that is what the pearl is.”

  16. Wondering together • I wonder where the joy (of Easter) comes from? “I think the happiness of Jesus being born and the sadness of Jesus dying is all mixed together to make the joy of Easter.” I wonder which of the disciples was the most important? “Judas…. because if he hadn’t betrayed Jesus would Jesus still have died for us?”

  17. Wondering together I wonder where the 10 best ways (commandments) are kept today? “In our hearts” “They are kept in love”

  18. Freedom to wonder • Time, space and resources to continue wondering • Freedom to choose their own work

  19. The community of the circle • Sharing a feast • Learning to listen and respect each other • A community of grace • A taste of a spiritual feast

  20. Shared reflections “For me its giving the children the time and space to become aware that there is a spiritual dimension to their lives.” Teacher Community Primary School

  21. Shared reflections “The awe and wonder element is something that reaches far into other areas, the class keep ‘wondering' all the time in science.” Teacher Community Primary School

  22. Shared reflections “I have learnt more about the children in my class on Tuesday afternoons than in all the rest of the week” Teacher Community Primary School

  23. Shared reflections “I am so looking forward to this school year with the opportunity to bring the children over to 'Godly play' it certainly alters the whole dynamics of a class.” Current Year 2 teacher Community Primary School

  24. Shared reflections “What I have learnt is that it is OK to not have all the answers. Godly Play is for the children, they have the answers inside and can usually explain it a lot better than I could!” Teacher RC Primary School

  25. Shared reflections “The impact on the school has been amazing. Our Ofsted inspection report commented that ‘what goes on inside the Godly Play room is remarkable.’” RE Coordinator RC Primary School

  26. Shared reflections “We knew the stories because our teachers had taught them and read them from the bible, but now they are our stories” Year 6 pupils RC Primary School

  27. With thanks to • North Ormesby Community Primary School • St Alphonsus RC Primary School • Holy Trinity Parish Church, North Ormesby • Godly Play UK • The Diocese of York Diocese of York