"What pleases me most about prayer spaces is the positive way children approach it."
At St. Michael’s we have a permanent ‘Prayer Tree’ available as well as ‘Thoughtful Spaces’ within classrooms for children to use should they want to. However, for one week in October and just after we have celebrated our Harvest Festival, we set aside a learning area, about half the size of a classroom, and transformed it into a ‘Prayer Space’ with a range of creative activities that encourage personal reflection on issues such as forgiveness, saying sorry, thinking of others, thankfulness and stillness.
With the younger pupils we described it as, to quote AA Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh, a ‘Thoughtful Spot’, somewhere we can be quiet, think or talk about God. Having run prayer spaces for four years, the pupils now really look forward to the opportunity and make more use of our ongoing prayer areas because of it.
What pleases me most about prayer spaces is the positive way children approach it and, whether they come from families of faith or none, their desire to spend time in prayer or in quiet refection thinking about others and the everyday things precious to them.
‘Fizzy Forgiveness’, ‘Sorry Sand’ and ‘Bubble Tubes’ have been a part of all four we have run, but we like to introduce other ideas as well and have used ‘Big Question Walls’ to ask God things beyond our understanding, ‘Fidget Spinners’ to think about the importance of slowing down, ‘Prayer Flowers’ to remember family and friends and put our finger prints onto ‘God’s Hand!’ to show how individual and precious we are to Him. Among our favourites are ‘Let it go!’ using Disney’s Frozen theme to help children to get rid of worries and ‘Thankful Playdough’ to say thank you for all the good things we have.
We always try and introduce something new. For 2018 we brought in ‘Jigsaw Prayers’ with a selection of 20 piece puzzles and one 350 piece jigsaw to represent the whole school community. Sometimes life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Some days are easy and everything goes in the right place, but some days are harder and we might be frustrated or be ready to give up. The hard parts of a jigsaw take time. The hard parts demand perseverance. Completing the hard parts is difficult, but not impossible. The hard parts are often completed working with someone else and God is there to support, comfort and guide us through prayer.
The prayer space is definitely a whole school experience. The room was staffed by local clergy and governors and all of our 315 children took part from our awestruck 4 year olds to our more questioning Year 6!”
Paul Fox, Headteacher St Michael’s C of E Primary School