Light & Shadows of Chalandor Book of Shadows
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Title: Early Childhood Development 4-6yr olds and Religious Training
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Autumn_Heather
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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/17/2009 07:37 AM)
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Early Childhood Development 4-6yr olds and Religious Training



Children around the ages of 4-6 yrs old like to explore, they start putting things together and thinking up ideas. They start being creative in their play.  Independence and individuality are emerging. Children at this stage learn through experience and using their senses. They learn by trial and error and need to manipulate the world through action. They need to be given opportunities to explore and play in a variety of ways through physical experience as perception and abstract concepts are not yet understood. The child becomes personally involved with his environment and endows everything he sees with spirit and life. He projects
his feelings onto objects and identifies the world around him in a magickal way. All around us are signs of life that appeal to a child’s sense of wonder. When a child learns more through a long period of discovery, and then why not take the time to let him repeat and discover over and over again the meaning of water, light, a rock, bug or tree?

Children understand love from their parents and in this nurturing they can start to understand that the creation of the world demonstrates to us the love of the Goddess and God. Teaching how a child can help “Mother Nature” is a concept they can start to understand in feeding birds, watering flowers or caring for a garden. Relationships that foster nourishing exploration help a child develop an understanding of symbolic concepts later on. For example the kitchen table should be a place where loved ones gather to feast and share experiences and pleasant conversation. There may be a candle on the table giving warmth and light. A prayer of thanksgiving for food, sunshine or rain may be offered. We wash our hands to cleanse and purify ourselves and refresh us before we sit down for this experience. There may be a plant on the windowsill that with proper care grows and branches in the light. These kinds or routines foster comfort and plant the seeds of future concepts.

In practice the parent or teacher can set the stage for learning opportunities but should act as an observer as the child chooses things to explore that maybe in a classroom, home or outdoors.  After a period of exploration by the children and observation by the teacher the children can be called together for circle or group time. This gives time for the children to share and talk about what they are discovering or show & tell. This circle time is also a time to sing, dance, learn a rhythm or listen to a story.  These activities are not a formal way of teaching religion yet are building on values of how people relate to one another and the Gods. Manners and taking turns, cleaning up after yourself, sitting and listening and sharing the excitement of signs of life and the beauty in all things helps the child to experience the sacred. Long explanations at this stage are meaningless, but sharing discoveries and play time are extremely important.

A scaled down child sized altar where children can arrange the candlesticks, flowers, decorations, holy well, sacred tree etc and experience prayer can be an activity for children to explore individually or as a group with 1 or 2 children acting as “clergy.”  Think of your first exposure to paganism and desire to have your own “cool altar toys & tools.”  Teaching that these objects are sacred and special helps foster feelings of reverence. Sharing “cakes & juice” or meals together is also a preparation for worship.
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