Let’s play at the park! Family pathways promoting spiritual resources to inspire nature, pretend play, storytelling, intergenerational play and celebrations.
Playful activities in outdoor natural spaces can support the holistic development of young children and promote their spirituality.
This article, based on direct observations in natural settings, presents a rationale for looking to outdoor play spaces – especially community parks — as a resource of promoting children’s spirituality. The discussion is based on the understanding that young children have an innately rich spiritual dimension that can be nurtured when given opportunities to express it or when such expressions are recognized. According to the author, playful activities in outdoor spaces can support the holistic development of young children and promote their spirituality. The type of playful activities encouraged by the author includes pretend play, storytelling, intergenerational play and celebrations. Engaging children in such activities can help adults identify children’s interests and strengths, promote their creativity, and strengthen relationships with families and community. Such activities can also deepen children’s fascination with the natural world. The author gives examples of how such activities might be implemented in an outdoor natural setting.
Supported in this discussion is the idea that playful activities in nature can promote five spiritual resources identified by Miller as attributes with which all children are born: a natural love of spiritual rituals and ceremonies; a capacity for spiritual awareness and intuitive guidance, care and empathy; a desire to be helpful, contributing, and sharing; an innate sense of the oneness of family; and a connection with nature and curiosity regarding the passage of human growth and life cycles.
Harris, K.I., (2016). Let’s play at the park! Family pathways promoting spiritual resources to inspire nature, pretend play, storytelling, intergenerational play and celebrations.. International Journal of Children's Spirituality.