Exploring Faith Through Stories, Wonder, and Play: Introducing Our New Godly Play Curriculum
One of the many blessings of being at an Episcopal School is that we are able to help to cultivate the spiritual development of our students that respects the faith traditions of all people, provides Biblical foundations for all students, and seeks to understand the religions of the world. From our smallest learners to our grown graduates, we respect the religious journey of each student.
In order to bring the best in faith education to our students at Heathwood Hall, we are excited to share that we will be introducing a new chapel curriculum, Godly Play, for Early Childhood and Lower School students.
This Montessori-based curriculum will help students learn the stories of the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament in a hands-on way that is perfect for our youngest faith explorers. Because children have an innate sense of the presence of God, this approach helps our students to explore their faith through stories, to enhance their reflections and experiences through wonder and play, and to gain the words to express their thinking.
Each week, students will hear a story of the Bible presented linearly from Genesis to Revelation. Then, as they grow older, the stories develop in completeness and complexity, so that by the time students have left Lower School, they have a foundational understanding of the Bible. It is a scaffolded and spiraling curriculum so the stories of God’s people are visited again and again until they are as familiar as any great story of “once upon a time.” The students are encouraged to look and listen for God in their lives and to make creative and authentic responses. Godly Play values community, relationships, openness, and deep and critical thinking.
In addition to these educational benefits, students have the opportunity to interact with the beautifully made, deliberately inclusive materials of the curriculum. These hand-carved wooden materials make sure that students of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and colors see themselves in the Biblical narrative.
Faith stories are part of the way that we create identity and recognize everyone’s identity is sacred. The materials are given the respect any faith story deserves, so children learn that these stories of faith are different than just a regular story book. This is the language I will use every week to help students understand why we study faith and how they are part of the Biblical narrative as they explore faith traditions for themselves.
We are so excited to begin this journey with the students at Heathwood Hall. We feel confident that Godly Play is a curriculum that encapsulates our Episcopal identity and our School motto, “The Episcopal School for All.”