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Kodo Partner – Deborah Schein

I started my career in 1972 as an educator and later as a Director of a Jewish early childhood program. I then moved to a low-income urban setting, where I created a classroom-based upon the Reggio Emilia philosophy of the hundred languages. Even with this beautiful program that included art, self-expression, dialogue, projects, and lots of natural materials, I felt like something important was missing. So, I began studying Spiritual Development in 2002. 

One might ask, what prompted you on this journey to go back to school and study a topic such as spiritual development. Well, let me tell you about a day many years ago that prompted this inquiry. 

One day, one of my young students came to me with a worm in his hand. He was quite excited and my own response did not support what he was feeling. I actually froze, offering him no words of support or encouragement.  Can you imagine freezing and not being able to support a child in their excitement?! 

Acknowledging Spiritual Development in Young Children

From that moment on I have been thinking about and researching children’s spiritual development. When I look back at that scenario, I now realize that this little boy was in the midst of a spiritual moment. Sadly, the idea of spiritual development has been tabooed in secular educational settings. It didn’t occur to me that I could have and should have done something to acknowledge this special moment for him.  

  • Words of gratitude
  • Thoughts of praise
  • Appreciation for diversity and beauty 

Everyday Activities

These are all examples that come to mind as ways of introducing spirituality into our everyday work with children. We might also think about ways to provide children with daily doses of wonder, awe, and joy to awaken in them, their own uniqueness, an awareness of self, along with the multitude of ways to connect their amazing selves with the rest of the world. Below are some examples of daily doses to support children’s spiritual development:

  • Watch an ant creep across the grass
  • Enjoy time with a friend, or even, allow children time to be alone to allow their sense of self to emerge
  • Watch the sunrise or the sunset together 

Join Kodo and Deb Schein over the next several weeks as she shares her ongoing thoughts and reflections on early childhood education and spiritual development. 

For more information on Spiritual Development consider the following:

  1. Take Deb’s online course: Inspiring Wonder, Awe, and Empathy: Spiritual Development and Spiritual Moments
  2. Read Deb’s blog on Fostering Spiritual Moments in Time
  3. Purchase her book from RedLeaf Press

Wishing you all much joy, Deborah Schein