Early Childhood Religious Education: It Matters, but What Is Its Matter?
Compared with the establishment of Catholic primary and secondary schools in Australia, Catholic early childhood education has been a much more recent phenomenon, particularly since the introduction of the Australian Government’s mandated Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), 2009). Within the Catholic early childhood sector, early childhood religious education is still emerging as a distinct area. Certainly, religious education programmes in various formats had been integrated into Catholic early years school settings before the 1990s, but the introduction of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009) document has initiated more formalised and determined curriculum development (Grajczonek, 2017). As Catholic dioceses have sought to address the increasing emphasis on early childhood, they have approached the area of religious education in a variety of ways. Such approaches, models and frameworks including Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (Cavalletti, 1992) Godly Play (Berryman, 1991) multifaith approaches influenced by the United Kingdom, young children’s spirituality influences (Hay & Nye, 2006) and so on have been adopted and adapted from overseas.
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