Big Mud puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions
I close my eyes, in a moment I am flying high in the sky, observing the earth below me. I am a child, I feel light; I feel free; full of fun, excitement and wonder, I can do anything...absolutely anything.
I open my eyes slowly, reality is not shy; it pushes my childlike reflections aside and once again takes centre stage. Those few carefree moments were all in my imagination, I am in fact a married mum of two, who navigates well through a busy day, multi tasking and juggling diverse roles and responsibilities. For many of us the twists and turns of life carry us far away from the carefree nature of a child. Life experience adds both light and shade to the journey of faith, as relationships along with the successes and failures of life, help to shape and form character.
My son, Nathaniel and I perceive things differently. My own perceptions have developed and formed over 43 years, Nathaniel, however, is only 8 years old. Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions (appendix a), captures perfectly, how a child and an adult can interpret the same experience very differently. Children are curious, inquisitive and excited about life; they enjoy learning, questioning and discovering how things work. Westerhoff states that ‘Children live in the world of dreams and visions; they take chances and create. Until we teach them otherwise, they believe they can paint, dance, act, sing’.
Children are naturally loving and trusting, in Matthew 18 Jesus, highlights how the qualities most often found in a child are pleasing to God,
Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child (Matthew 18:3-4)
It is clear from this scripture, that the qualities of a child are essential for those wanting to develop in relationship with God. Copsey refers to the qualities of a child as gifts. Copsey catalogue’s some of the qualities she witnessed in children, were ‘a sense of adventure, spontaneity, imagination, gentleness, joy and wonder in small things, candor, trust, resilience, innocence, giving hearts.’
Wither states that ‘There is a tendency to put the child, and indeed many adults, into a model of church that is not appropriate.’ Similarly Harding suggests that some of the language used is ‘not accessible to the average adult ‘off the street’, let alone a child.’ I agree with both Wither and Harding and have observed on many occasions when the child’s age of learning and cognitive development has not been considered in the planning of a session. A teacher must consider the age of the children when developing and delivering a lesson, children may not understand if the language and concepts are too complex. Beckwith states that the ‘Lack of training, no knowledge of how children reason and learn, and little class...