'Freedom to Wonder' - York St John University

hardtofindcurtainUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (4 years and 4 months ago)


‘Freedom to Wonder’

Developing Children’s Spirituality: Reflections
on Practice

Heather Black

Accredited Trainer, Godly Play UK


Our Context

North Ormesby a community close to the


Population approx. 4,500

North Ormesby Community Primary School, approx.
200 pupils

St Alphonsus RC Primary School, approx. 230 pupils

Reflections on

Five years working with local
community primary school

Sept 2009/10 a year
longitudinal study
Dissertation, Durham University

Three years of supporting local RC
primary school

Four years working with local
special needs school

In the beginning….

There was nothing!

Something was created

Sowing some seeds

Key findings


Respect for others

Understanding that others
may see things differently

Inner peace

Ability to concentrate

Ability to work
independently and
discover for themselves

School RE Coordinator

study with a
Year 2
class over two

Benefits were seen across
the curriculum

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

The weekly sessions

Crossing the threshold

Building the circle

Sharing the story

Wondering together

Freedom to wonder

Sharing a feast

Saying goodbye

Creating space
to wonder

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

“I can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd all the time
when I am here.”

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

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

Wondering together

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?

key questions
that help to develop

I wonder……

Wondering together

I wonder…..

Creating a space to discover together

eing 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

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


has a prison in
his bungalow (grandma had
recently died and now
Granddad was housebound)

Wondering together

Exploring what is

“The pearl of great price is a
home, because if you have ever
not had a home, that is what the
pearl is.

Wondering together

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?”

Wondering together

wonder where the 10 best ways (commandments) are
kept today?

“In our hearts”

“They are kept in love”

Freedom to wonder

Time, space and resources
to continue wondering

Freedom to choose their own

The community of the circle

Sharing a feast

Learning to listen and respect each

A community of grace

A taste of a spiritual feast

Shared reflections

me its giving the children the time and space to
become aware that there is a spiritual
to their

Teacher Community Primary School

Shared reflections

“The awe and wonder element
is something that reaches
far into other areas,
keep ‘wondering
' all the time

Teacher Community Primary School

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

Shared reflections


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

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

Shared reflections

“The impact on the school has been amazing. Our

inspection report commented that ‘what goes on inside
the Godly Play room is remarkable.’”

RE Coordinator RC Primary

Shared reflections

We knew the stories because our teachers had taught
them and read them from the bible
, but
now they are our

Year 6 pupils RC
Primary School

With thanks to

North Ormesby Community Primary School


RC Primary School

Holy Trinity Parish Church, North Ormesby

Godly Play UK

The Diocese of York

Diocese of