‘Understanding Children Understanding God’, by Ronnie Lamont, publisher SPCK
‘Ronnie, you’ve got very big black boots’.
‘Yes, Sophie, that’s because I’ve got big feet’.
‘God must have enormous boots, Ronnie’.
This wonderful exchange, recounted by the author, draws us into the world of children; the way they think, their openness of expression, and the reality that God is so present for them. They are spiritual beings, with a ‘glimpse of heaven within their souls’ that is lost as they mature. We remember that Jesus said we must become as children or we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, so we are challenged to help our understanding of God by looking at children’s understanding, and their way of ‘doing theology’.
In her study of children, Lamont sets out the principles of child development and the current theories of how faith is developed, with the clear challenge to the Church that the Christian education of our children is widely dependent on volunteer enthusiasts, who are mostly unsupported and untrained. She affirms that education is not about increasing Christian knowledge, but creating an environment where children will be encouraged question and so to work out their own spirituality, rather than being given a watered down version of ours.
Lamont’s insights into a range of teaching methods, and learning styles suggest ways in which adults can learn from children as they learn from us. She draws on the work of Jerome Berryman in encouraging ‘Godly Play’, a method of storytelling and interaction which helps children to understand religious language so that they can grow in spiritual understanding.
The delight of this book is the way in which the children obviously think about God, with a real sense of awe and understanding, such as the eight year old who said:
‘When I think about God I be silent’. We can only marvel at their deep faith.