The phenomenon of preschool children's spirituality

Giesenberg, Anna (2007) The phenomenon of preschool children's spirituality. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Spirituality is discussed as seen in literature from the disciplines of psychology, religion, education, nursing, politics and philosophy. Special emphasis is placed on how spirituality is viewed in regard to young children. From the disciplines mentioned, an overall definition of spirituality - at least for adults - is derived: &quotSpirituality is an innate ability to show awareness or consciousness of the surrounding world shown through wonder, a sense of compassion, and love towards this world and everything in it, and for some people a relationship with a transcendent being, who can also be immanent in the individual." Findings are described from a field study of 12 months duration where 56 children, aged 3-7 years, from 4 different early childhood settings were followed on a fortnightly basis. The children were able to express aspects of spirituality in their play, discussions and artwork, such as paintings and drawings. The children were asked to paint and draw their experiences of selected pieces of chamber music, of a beautiful day, of love, and of dreams. In addition children were observed in their interactions with peers. The data were analysed using a combination of Grounded Theory methodology and Phenomenology. The main finding is that young children &quotlive in" their spirituality, and that young children are very aware of their surroundings and are able to express abstract concepts such as love, beauty, wonder and compassion. Young children's spirituality differs from adults in one major aspect: that they do not express a relationship with a transcendent being. It appears that spirituality may be innate as described by Montessori (1949), Hegel (1807) and Descartes (in Luria & Vygotsky, 1998).

Suggestions for dealing with young children and their spirituality are made for the early childhood educator. Suggestions for further studies related to young children's spirituality are also made.

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ID Code: 16519
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Lidstone, John & Bond, Peter
Keywords: preschool, child spirituality
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Anna Giesenberg
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:05
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:49

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