Embracing Make Believe Play and Theories of Early Childhood: Understanding Children's Spirituality and the Spiritual Essence of a Young Child

  • Kathleen I Harris Seton Hill University
Keywords: spirituality, play, early childhood, theorists, relationships


Young children are born with a unique development that captures the spiritual essence of wonder and signature style of their own capabilities, strengths, interests, personality, temperament, and learning styles. Spiritual moments experienced by young children are often direct, personal, and have the effect, if only for a moment, of uplifting us by capturing the essence of spirituality through playful moments.  Children’s spirituality involves questioning, exploring, and belonging by building close relationships in comfortable environments and from caring caregivers who provide a secure environment and routine in which to grow and nurture in. Spirituality, together with the efficacy of make-believe play invites young children to be awakened with an awareness of community and purpose with the world around them.  Each new discovery made by a young child is a potential source of wonder and delight.  Through a child’s imagination and make believe play, teachers and parents may be given opportunities to be aware of this aspect and witness their spirituality. In this paper, children’s spirituality is defined and the characteristics of spirituality are discussed connecting to the dynamics of play for young children and the contributions of major early childhood theorists to the growth and understanding of children’s spirituality are featured.

Author Biography

Kathleen I Harris, Seton Hill University
Assistant ProfessorDivision of EducationEarly Childhood Education/Early Intervention
How to Cite
Harris, K. I. (2014). Embracing Make Believe Play and Theories of Early Childhood: Understanding Children’s Spirituality and the Spiritual Essence of a Young Child. International Journal of Integrative Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine, 1, 12 - 21. https://doi.org/10.36013/ijipem.v1i0.3