Religious Education can have a very significant place in a child’s early life. In the first few years, a child is introduced to many different faiths and beliefs, and it is Religious Education (RE) that helps further evolve a child’s understanding and knowledge of various religious beliefs, traditions and principals in order to promote tolerance and kindness towards others and their respective religious beliefs (Kamguian, 2004). A little knowledge about the different religions and their respective faiths can help children gain a broader understanding of religion along with widening their perspective in order to include other people’s beliefs.
On a different note, asking children new and innovative questions can be of essence in the early years of their lives. Asking them questions is a way of not only guiding their behaviour towards an expected outcome (Wright, 2020) but also to develop their ability to think about various issues. Combining the efforts of asking innovative questions with the idea of Religious Education amongst children can have interesting and insightful results. This practice can enable children to more deeply understand the world of religion along with developing their understanding of the same.
The below stated questions are related to Religious and Spiritual Education in order to widen children’s thinking about the same. These questions are most suited for the children of age five to six, as children of this age have a working understanding of the self the others along with an understanding of emotions and values.
Question 1: Who is God?
“Who is God” is a very simple question, and yet different individuals have different answers. This simple question has been chosen in order to introduce the children to the concept of “God”, or “the Creator”. Via this question, various children can self-reflect and introspect regarding what God means to them, or what they’ve been told so far. The value of this questions lies in the acknowledgement of the existence of God. Through this question, the children can get a deeper understanding of how God has been a part of their lives in different aspects.
Question 2: How many Gods are there in the world?
While some religions hold one figure as God, others have hundreds and thousands of figures. This question acknowledges that fact that more than one God can exist in the world as the world has place for each and every one of them. This question can help the children acknowledge the broadness of religion (DW, 2020). If a child believes that only one God exists, this thinking can be moulded in order to explain to the child that that is not the case. This question is useful in establishing that while most individuals believe in a single God, does not mean that only one exists.
Question 3: Where do you think does God stay?
God, as we know it, is omnipotent and is present everywhere. When teaching children about good actions and values, parents and teachers often use the phrase “God is watching” which indeed most believe in. This particular question reinstates the same value, that God stays everywhere, including everybody’s heart. The importance of this question lies in the fact that God does not necessarily reside in churches and temples, but is present wherever a person needs him. This question will also challenge the present thinking of the child and provoke a train of thought (Lorina, 2015). This question can additionally be used to make the children aware of the various places that prayer takes place in (temples, mosques, churches etc.) and how some people visit such places to pay their respects to the creator.
Question 4: Why is it that no one can see God?
God is not a person but an energy, is the belief that is held by this particular question. Children, via this question, are forced to face the reality that unlike each other, we cannot see or feel the presence of God. The real question is “why” can no one see God. This question forces the children to think beyond the obvious and think of as many possibilities as they can regarding the question in hand (Loogenburg, 2014). This particular question can be used to acknowledge the absence of a physical form but the presence of a spiritual form of God, and the reason for it being this way.
Question 5: Why do you think people believe in the existence of God?
The question “why is God important” does seem to force individuals to evaluate their lives and beliefs all the same. For children too, this question might pose a certain train of thought. To answer this question, a child will be forced to think about the various individuals in his/her life and what purpose God fulfils in their lives. This question gives a sense of universality to the concept of God, and can be used to allow the child to include as much information as she/he can understand regarding the question (Loogenburg, 2014).
Question 6: Where do you think a person goes after they die?
While the concept of death can be relatively new and alien for the children, it is nonetheless important to talk about death when focusing on spirituality. The concepts of life after death, karma and reincarnation are all associated with spirituality, and hence the question is framed in a way that requires the children to think of various possibilities in which the question can be answered before deciding on the most appropriate answer (Swartz, 2019). This question can be utilized in order to teach the children about the possibilities offered by spirituality and the importance of good actions for the same.
Question 7: What do you think Heaven is like?
This particular question requires the children to be imaginative and think as innovatively as they can. Every individual is aware that Heaven is a good place, but no body knows the specifics of it. This question requires the children to be immensely creative and think of the best possible place that they can describe. This question will not only get the children excited about the concept of Heaven but also understand the power of good actions that lead to the staircase to Heaven. This question can also be used to teach the children about the concepts of good and bad, and what their final consequence can look like.
Question 8: What superpowers do you think God has?
By comparing God to a superhero, the concept of God becomes relatable to all children. By imagining God as a being with superpowers, the children can once again use their imagination to be innovative and describe God as what they want him to be or think that he already is. This question enables the children share their ideas and emotions (Swartz, 2019) along with explaining why they think God bears a certain superpower. This question can be used to further generate an interest in the minds of the children and give a human-like form to the existence of God.
Question 9: Why is it important to perform good deeds?
Again, going on the path of spirituality, this question highlights the difference in between good deed and bad, and the consequences of them both. This question does not require the children to be innovative but instead makes them question their personal beliefs as to why good actions must be performed. This question can be used to teach children the basics of spirituality and the importance of good actions in order to reach salvation. This question can also be used to give the children a sense of direction regarding the spiritual path.
Question 10: According to you, what is the purpose of life?
Yet another spiritual question, this question is aimed at the ideology of spirituality. Via this question, the children are made to deeply analyse the existence of each and every person in the world and made to wonder why mankind exists. This question can not only be used to push the children into exploring their innovative boundaries (Lorina, 2015) but also to give them a sense of purpose in their own lives. A sense of purpose at a young age can go a long way for children and help them determine their own values and beliefs.
Posing open ended questions in the early days of a child’s life can be very important for a child to develop a deeper understanding and thinking process. Not only does it broaden the base of thinking, it also enables the children to consider other perspectives that they hadn’t before. Open-ended questions merged along with the open-ended topic of religion can greatly help children understand the concept in their own way and develop a firm grasp over it. This method can also empower the children into taking a hold over their own beliefs and moving away from the beliefs they acquired from their parents. The above stated questions can help greatly in fulfilling these purposes.
(2020). Religious Education Should Be a Part of the School Curriculum? Retrieved from https://debatewise.org/575-should-religious-education-be-part-of-the-school-curriculum/
Kamguian, A. (2020). The impact of religion on children’s development. Retrieved from https://www.secularism.org.uk/33004.html
Loogenburg, E. (2014). Benefits of asking young kids open-ended questions. Retrieved from https://www.under5s.co.nz/shop/Hot+Topics+Articles/Child+Development/Benefits+of+asking+young+kids+open-ended+questions.html
Lorina. (2015). Using Open Ended Questions with Children. Retrieved from https://aussiechildcarenetwork.com.au/articles/teaching-children/using-open-ended-questions-with-children
Swartz, R. (2019). The Power of Open-Ended Questions. Retrieved from https://illinoisearlylearning.org/blogs/growing/open-questions/
Wright, J. (2020). Guiding Children by Using Questions. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/guiding-children-using-questions
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