On November 4, I will be participating in a joint interest forum workshop at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Los Angeles. The idea for the workshop was born out of a forum meeting last year in Orlando, at the 2015 conference. I had just come from the first integrated forum workshops in which the Young Children’s Spirituality interest forum, the Play, Policy, and Practice interest forum, the Nature interest forum, and the Peace interest forum came together to discuss how these topics work together to benefit young children. I happen to be sitting next to two members of the Science forum; and it so happens that I teach an online, play-based course for Champlain’s graduate program in early childhood education, titled Math and Science for Young Children!
So, all excited about the success of the integrated workshop, I began a discussion with these two lovely women from the Science interest forum which led to an invitation to come together in 2016. Today, I am both excited and a bit nervous about how it will all evolve. I see that some of the educators I am working with come with an agenda of “what children should learn through their play?”, thus believing that guiding questions should be offered, questions like “what happens to the water when it is left out?”. Others of us believe in the value of the experience of play itself. I am very grateful that the Science interest forum has embraced the idea of spirituality. For me, the partnership lies in the production of wonderment, awe, and joy in learning. When a child makes a new discovery, new joy and new inquiry are sparked. The spiritual embryo is once again ignited. Such moments remain the force to knowing and becoming that Montessori spoke of. This is what I hope to share at this year’s workshop.
Also at this year’s conference, I will be teaming up with Jennifer Mata McMahon from DePaul University, and Michael Haslip from Drexel College. We have designed a research study that grew out of last year’s NAEYC presentation and the need to know what educators are doing in their classrooms to support children’s spiritual nourishment. During this workshop, participants will be completing the survey, followed by a comparison and discussions of our findings to their answers. I look forward to seeing how this all unfolds.