Godly Play

Godly Play is available for children on Sundays following the worship service, September through May. It is a Montessori-based religious education curriculum developed by Jerome Berryman, an Episcopal priest. The curriculum has been used for over 30 years in churches of different denominations as well as all over the world. Classes follow the shape of the Eucharist. The children gather in a special space, hear one of God’s stories, and then respond to God’s story through dialogue, art or music. The response time is followed by the Feast. Sometimes parents have questions about Godly Play because it has a “different feel” than many other curricula being used in churches. You are invited to review this information and if you have further questions, please contact Angela Donovan or Kim Kahn-Waletzke.

 

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Why is the curriculum called Godly Play—are the children just playing?
Playing and praying don’t just sound alike—they are very similar activities. Think of what it’s like to play—for example, we are joyful. We are not self-conscious. In fact, we become engrossed in what we are doing and feel centered, enriched, and strengthened. Praying can often be thought of as a way of playing with God. In a Godly Play classroom, children are invited to come into the presence of the mystery of God, to hear God’s stories, and to respond to them out of love.

What projects will the children work on in class?
In a Godly Play classroom, children respond to the story verbally during wondering time and also respond by working with story objects, creating art, or even caring for the classroom during the response time. Responses to the biblical stories might include art, music or a child’s own retelling of the story. All are part of the structure of the routine and ritual of the class.

IMG_2613How do I know if my child is learning anything?
In addition to learning and engaging the stories of the Old and New Testaments, through the Godly Play classroom, the children learn how to listen, how to treat sacred space, how to treat one another, and how to begin to be self-directed. Parents often report that children begin to “wonder” aloud about things, treat objects with greater reverence and even include elements like the baby Jesus in their play at home. Parents also report that children retell the stories they heard on the way home from church or still later in the week.

How can I support my child’s experience in Godly Play?
It sounds simple, but the most important things parents can do are to bring their children to class regularly. Just as with any class or practice, the more regularly a child attends Sunday school, the more enriching the experience will be! Godly Play at Christ Church begins immediately following the 10:00 AM service. Timeliness is important because in the Godly Play classroom, children are greeted individually at the door and invited into the circle one by one. Building a circle of children who are “ready” and who are not rushed or late, sets the tone for the morning and allows the sacred story to be told without interruption. The class lasts about 45 minutes.

More questions about Godly Play?
Contact Reverend Catherine Lemons at any time at 507-433-3782 or rector@christchurchaustin.org.