President Baber Publishes Article in The Greenwich Sentinel on the Importance of Spiritual Life for Children

President Baber Publishes Article in The Greenwich Sentinel on the Importance of Spiritual Life for Children

President Baber's recent article on the importance of a rich spiritual life for children was just published in The Greenwich Sentinel. Please enjoy reading below! 

The Importance of Nurturing the Spirit of Students in Lower School

Spirituality, transcending religious boundaries, is an inherent birthright that sets humanity apart from all other forms of life on our planet. It is the essence of our existence, imbuing us with a profound sense of purpose and connection. Dr. Lisa Miller, in her seminal work The Spiritual Child, defines spirituality as a relationship to a higher power or universal presence that imbues life with purpose and meaning. It is a guiding force that transcends organized religion, although the two often intersect in profound ways.

As an educator for the past 30 years, I have had the privilege of witnessing the incredible journey of students, especially Lower School students, as they navigate their formative years. Childhood is a time seeped in wonder and learning, a period where the world unfolds in wonderful ways before the child’s eyes, revealing great discoveries, beauty, and mysteries. It is during this transformative phase that we catch glimpses of children’s innate spirituality – their natural inclination towards awe, curiosity, and connection to something greater than themselves. Whether it’s marveling at the blue of a robin’s egg, expressing imagination through artwork, or forming deep bonds with a family pet, these moments exemplify the inherent spirituality that resides within each of us, and is most vibrant during childhood.

Research suggests that embracing a spiritual life confers numerous benefits, including protection against depression, substance abuse, and high-risk behaviors. Empirical data demonstrates how a developed sense of spirituality fosters emotional resilience, optimism, and a deeper sense of purpose, guiding individuals towards a life directed with meaning and fulfillment. Moreover, MRI studies reveal awe-inspiring changes in the circuitry of a child’s brain as it forms neural pathways to embrace beliefs in the transcendent. Drawing from the science of the spiritual brain, we understand that fostering a connection with a higher power offers unparalleled protection against depression, surpassing any intervention known to medical or social sciences (Miller, Wickramaratne, Tenke, Weissman, 2012). The groundwork for these benefits is most effectively established during childhood when young minds are open and their ability to embrace wonder in the world around them reaches its pinnacle. This enduring support then extends into adolescence and adulthood, shaping individuals’ experiences throughout their lives.

In an era where children’s lives are increasingly consumed by busyness and achievement, nurturing their spiritual grounding is more vital than ever. As educators and parents, we can harness children’s natural capacities by sharing a language of spirituality with them. Dr. Miller suggests discussing spiritually significant ideas with children, such as “heart knowing” versus “head knowing,” having a spiritual compass, and feeling part of something greater than ourselves. We can share our own spiritual experiences with them and build rituals that celebrate gratitude, compassion, and tradition. We can nurture children’s relationships with the natural world and cultivate the humility to recognize all creatures are connected in carefully entwined webs of life.

The evidence is unmistakable: nurturing a spiritual life yields numerous benefits, influencing not only our personal well-being, but also our relationships, communities, and the broader world. At Sacred Heart Greenwich, an all-girls, independent Catholic school that teaches and welcomes students of all faiths, we are committed to nurturing the spiritual growth of our students and fostering a culture of reverence, wonder, and compassion. Our holistic approach to education addresses the intellectual, physical, and spiritual aspects of each child, empowering students to lead lives filled with purpose, passion, and service. By ensuring they are academically, emotionally, AND spiritually prepared, we equip them to lead fulfilling lives and to positively transform the world.