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The Nurture and Spiritual Guidance of Children

Second and third level unit for undergraduates
Elective unit for postgraduates

This unit explores the historical and current interest in the spiritual life and the spiritual development of children.  It examines links between Scripture, theological thought, spiritual and psychological development, neurobiology and ministry with children. The unit seeks to develop more informed ministries of protection and respect in pastoral care and religious education.

On successful completion of the unit student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of and informed critique of a range of views relating to the nurture and development of spirituality in children.
  2. Reflect theologically on aspects of ministry in protection, respect and valuing of children through pastoral care and religious education.
  3. Recognize, articulate and integrate within a practice framework the pastoral significance of love for the self, the other, the environment and the Divine as part of spirituality in the life of the child.
  4. Integrate spiritual experiences in life from childhood to the present.
  5. Articulate a sound educational theory and theories of faith development (third level).
  6. Critique and integrate, in reflection and practice, sound educational theory and theories of faith development (postgraduates).

Faculty 2018: Vivienne Mountain

Faculty 2019: Andrew Menzies with Beth Barnett

Offered: in 2018 and 2019. The unit can be taken either

  • online in second semester or
  • as a 6 Day intensive in November at Centre for Theology and Ministry (29 College Crescent, Parkville)


  • undergraduates normally 18 points in Field D
  • postgraduates normally 24 points in Field D

Corequisites: None

Prohibited Combinations: None


Level 2
One 1,000 word tutorial report and oral presentation 25%
One 2,500 word essay  50%
One 1,000 word response to scripture   25%

Level 3
One 1,500 word tutorial report and oral presentation  25%
One 2500 word essay  50%
One 1,500 word response to scripture  25%

One 1,500 word tutorial report and oral presentation  25%
One 3,000 word essay 50%
One 1,500 word response to scripture   25%

Recommended Reading:

Click here for reading pack 1

Click here for reading pack 2

Berryman, Jerome. The complete guide to Godly Play. Colorado: Moorehouse, 2002.
Berryman, Jerome. Children and the Theologians. New York: Moorehouse, 2009.
Berryman, Jerome. The spiritual guidance of children. New York: Moorehouse, 2013.
Bunge, Marcia. The child in Christian thought. Grand Rapids: Eardsman, 2001.
Coles, Robert. The spiritual life of children. London: Harper Collins, 1990.
Doidge, Norman.  The brain that changes itself. USA: Scribe, 2007.
Greenspan, Stanley.The secure child. USA: De Capo Press, 2002.
Hay, David. and Rebecca Nye.The Spirit of the Child. Great Britain: Harper Collins, 1998.
Hyde, Bredan. Children and spirituality. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.
Jensen, David. Graced Vulnerability Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2005.
Joiner, Reggie. Think Orange.USA: David Cook, 2009.
Moore, Lucy. Messy Church 2. Abingdon: Bible Reading Fellowship, 2008.
Mountain, Vivienne. “Four links between Child, Theology and Children’s Spirituality.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 16:3 (2011): 261-271.
Mountain, Vivienne.  “Educational contexts for developing children’s spirituality.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 12:2 (2007): 191-207.
Mountain, Vivienne.  “Prayer is a positive activity for children.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 10:3 (2005): 291-305.
Mountain, Vivienne.  Children and the church. Melbourne: CRA, 2014.
Music, Graham. Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children’s Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development. UK: Psychology Press, 2011.
Nye, Rebecca. Children’s Spirituality-what is it and why it matters.UK: Church House, 2009.
Paver, John. Theological Reflection Aldershot VT: Ashgate, 2006.
Perry, Bruce, and Maia & Szalavitz. The boy who was raised as a dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing. USA: Perseus, 2006.
Rahner, Karl. “Ideas for a theology of childhood.” In Theological investigations, Volume 8 Further theology of the spiritual life,  London: Darton Longman & Todd, 1971.
White, Keith, and Haddon Willmer. An introduction to Child Theology. London: Child Theology Movement, 2008.