Early religious education: believing in the education of young children in the home environment

Researchers agree that family education lies at the basis of the religious identity of children. Yet we know little about how parents introduce religion into the young lives of their children. What factor does the parents’ faith play in this and what are their reservations? This research shows how Protestant Christian parents, who are aware of their minority position in Amsterdam, exert themselves to take religion into account in their busy family lives. This study was completed in 2013.

About this research

Danielle van de Koot-Dees investigated the role of religion in the education of young children at home. What do parents say about this? How do they shape religious education in a secular, urban setting? The parents are asked about their convictions, opinions and experiences. It concerns parents of young children (0-4 years of age) who have been involved to some extent in a metropolitan community of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), now often called Young Urban Protestants (De Jong, 2011). A qualitative research method was used. The research started in February 2007 and was rounded off in June 2013. The dissertation is sold out, but can still be ordered at www.boekencentrum.nl via ‘printing on demand’.

‘I would like to convey something of the faith to my children, even if it is hard to know how to do this. We ourselves do not actually practice a great deal. I mean, we do not attend service every Sunday and that sort of thing. We do, however, sing a song before going to sleep, as we did at home in the past.’ (Joris, 33 years old, father of two).

'You would like your children to know that God loves them. This is what we are trying to convey and this is the source from which we ourselves would like to live. Of course it is a process of trial and error. We think it important to discuss faith with our children.' (Margreet, 29 years old, mother of three)

Interesting articles and publications by others (Dutch)

  • Godsdienstpedagogiek. Dimensies en spanningsvelden (Religious pedagogy. Dimensions and areas of tension). A new handbook on Religious pedagogy, written by today’s prominent pedagogues of religion (who are hidden under the pseudonym of E.T. Alii) and directed to students and professionals. September 2009.
  • De gereformeerden en hun vormingsoffensief door de eeuwen heen (The reformed and their educational initiatives through the centuries). A book for fans of historical pedagogy! This book deals with all sorts of facets of reformed education in the past centuries, from sexual education to spiritual children’s biography. Various authors have contributed to this liber amicorum for the historical pedagogue prof. dr. L.F. Groenendijk. September 2009.
  • Van huis uit katholiek (Brought up a Catholic). A practical theological, semiotic investigation into the development of religiosity in three generations of Roman-Catholic families. Toke Elshof (dissertation UvT). February 2009.
  • Meer dan een optelsom (More than a cumulative addition). Comments regarding the value of the family, Gerrit de Kruijf en Petruschka Schaafsma. Prominent ethicists and politicians reflect on the value of the family. November 2008.
  • Christelijke pedagogiek als handelingswetenschap (Christian pedagogy as academic accomplishment) Wim ter Horst. May 2008.