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ERIC Number: ED518920
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 225
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-5411-1
Children's Spirituality as Experienced and Expressed in a Kindergarten Classroom
Mata, Jennifer
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University
The purpose of this study was to provide a rich description of what spiritual experiences look like in children in a kindergarten classroom, in which typically, spirituality is not considered a part of the philosophy or curriculum of the school. This study sought to first describe what constitutes a spiritual experience, to then describe how children live and express these experiences in a school setting, and ultimately present what seems to prompt spiritual experiences for children in classrooms. The study utilized quantitative methodology and a phenomenological design, drawing on grounded theory for data analysis. Spirituality was defined as an innate, human characteristic that allows us to connect with transcendence and or the divine and feel part of the universe. Spirituality thus encompasses the individual capacity and the essence of life, providing humans with a greater consciousness and more profound understanding of being. Four kindergarten children were selected through preliminary observations and teacher recommendations. The data were collected primarily through observations done in the school site for a period of four months, individual and group activities with the children, and teacher and primary caregiver conversations. The study suggests that a child's spiritual experience is any experience outwardly or inwardly triggered, in which the child experiences joy or awe to the extent it could not be contained, and/or expresses their compassion and kindness, their sense of relating to others and/or their creative and imaginative self. Findings revealed various differences among the four children regarding how they experienced and expressed spirituality. Spiritual experiences were expressed through music and movement, relating to others, letters and numbers, and imaginative play. Commonalities among children were expressions of joy, demonstrations of compassion and kindness, sense of relating to others and imaginative self. The study proposes that teachers learn to provide children with opportunities to feel and express compassion and care, to be able to relate and connect to others, to experience joy through these interactions and feel they are part of the larger whole. Schools can promote spirituality by providing calm, safe, nurturing environments, in which children find time to carry out contemplative practices, ask deeper questions and have time to enjoy silence and think. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Kindergarten
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A