by Virginia Callegary
At First Presbyterian Church you’ve probably heard the phrase “Godly Play” many times without knowing what it means. These five points will give you a bit of insight into the rich educational approach that is Godly Play. Hopefully you will understand why Godly Play is still around and thriving many years after it was first brought to this congregation.
“Godly Play” isn’t just the name we gave our young children’s worship program.
It is an intentional approach to faith exploration with children. Godly Play utilizes story, language, wonder, and play to help children experience the mystery of God. It is a specific curriculum with special language and teaching methods that allows children to explore who God is on their own instead of being told.
It was developed from the Montessori tradition.
The Montessori Method of education is child-centered and based on “the view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment.” You can see evidence of this in the open-ended “I wonder…” questions asked at the end of every story and in the self-guided work time where the children engage the story in their own way.
The language is intentional.
The Storyteller uses a very specific classical Christian language system as he or she walks the children through the story of the day. Many words and phrases are repeated in particular stories as well as across the whole curriculum. Fluency in Christian language is important because it provides a framework through which children, adolescents, and adults experience and articulate their experience of the divine.
Godly Play Storytellers complete formal training every three years.
Ms. Kathy Moore, our Godly Play Coordinator, attends training to be recertified in Godly Play every three years. The training is a few days long and teaches the fundamentals of Godly Play. It also provides valuable insight into the spirituality of children and their innate sense of the presence of God.
How have you experienced God today?
This is the question you should ask children at the end of Godly Play. The children have been left to their own devices to explore the story they were told at the beginning of Godly Play. They were encouraged to wonder in their own way about the characters and events of the story. Now they need an opportunity to share how they experienced the mystery of God in the safe environment of Godly Play.
How can you be part of Godly Play?
If you want to experience teaching in a small dose, this is a great opportunity for you! Our volunteers are just there to lend a helping hand and be an extra adult in the room. No experience necessary! We need helpers during both services. If you are interested, please talk to Kathy Moore or Virginia Callegary.