Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

As early childhood's significant place within the contemporary educational sector continues to gain emphasis, the presence and place of religious education within early childhood also becomes more considerable. Educators will engage with advanced knowledge for the specialist area of spiritual and religious education of young children from birth to eight years. The unit analyses the key contexts of family and parish religious education and what such contexts imply for the partnership of family, parish and school. The diverse spiritual and religious aspects of young children's lives and learning are examined and evaluated in terms of what they imply for contemporary curriculum and pedagogy in the religion program. Relevant Church education documents are analysed for their insights regarding the nature and purpose of religious education within and beyond the classroom religion program.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Generate implications for the diverse nature of the family, church and school partnership has for early years spiritual and religious education (GA1, GA4; APST 1.3) 

LO2 - Review and evaluate contemporary theoretical perspectives regarding the spiritual and religious aspects of young children’s lives and learning (GA5; APST 1.2) 

LO3 - Generate responsive, effective and creative curriculum and pedagogy that reflects critical knowledge and expertise of contemporary early childhood teaching and learning theories (GA1, GA5; APST 2.1) 

LO4 - Identify, analyse and synthesise key insights Church education documents have for the nature and purpose of of religious education within and beyond the early years religion program (GA8; APST6.2)

LO5 - Clearly articulate the significant place prayer, ritual and liturgy have in religious education in the early years (GA9; APST 1.3). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

6.2 Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.


Topics will include: 

  • A focus on the spiritual and religious dimensions of young children’s lives and learning and implications such dimensions might have for pedagogy in the religion program. 
  • An exploration of the nature of the relationship between families, Church communities and educational agencies and implications such relationships might have for the spiritual and religious education of young children. 
  • An analysis and synthesis of Church documents on religious instruction and catechesis and their implications for religious education in early childhood. 
  • A survey of contemporary theories of early childhood curriculum and pedagogy to determine their relevance for spiritual and religious education in early childhood. 
  • A consideration of various approaches to the celebration of creative and inclusive prayers, rituals and liturgies with young children. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale


Teaching Religious Education in parish and school settings requires specific knowledge and skill sets unique to the contemporary Catholic Church. Students in this unit need to acquire knowledge about the nature and purpose of Religious Education both from an historical and contemporary perspectives as these have varied over time and still vary from diocese to diocese in Australia. Church documents inform teachers about the purpose of Religious Education from the perspective of the Magisterium, and local curriculum documents inform teachers about their responsibilities from a local diocesan and parish viewpoint. This background information provides a foundation for teachers to construct pedagogically appropriate classroom teaching and learning strategies for Religious Education in the early years, including previously acquired theological understandings of the essential precepts of Church teaching. 

The unit is constructed to consider students’ range of knowledge and experience in teaching RE and to build their capacity to do so. The unit is constructively aligned to build knowledge and integrate skills from general principles to specific outcomes that apply to teaching of Religious Education with young children in parish, school and pre-school contexts.  

The unit is taught in a variety of modes and involves 150 hours of focussed learning. This consists of lectures and tutorials in the face-to-face mode, and video-conferencing and webinars in the online mode. The remaining hours will be reserved for private research and cooperative learning through forums and reflective journals, leading to the completion of the required assessment tasks. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In this unit all the learning activities build towards the assessment of students’ ability to apply the necessary knowledge and skills required to teach Religious Education in a parish or school setting. The assessment tasks are aligned with the Learning Outcomes and designed to build students’ knowledge of how RE might be taught in different dioceses and their capacity to design teaching and learning in their particular context. The first assessment task represents the culmination of the learning in the first two modules related particularly to LO1, LO2 and LO3. The task asks students to demonstrate their knowledge of the ways children’s spirituality develops, the diversity of culture and faith in the contemporary classroom and to critically reflect on those circumstances to create a presentation for others. The second task relates to LO3, LO4 and LO5, and is intended for students to be able to demonstrate the application of their knowledge and experience to specific pedagogical approaches which may be used in the early childhood context. 

There will be two pieces of assessment in this unit. Total assessment is the equivalent of 5,000 words. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Common Assessment Task  

A common assessment piece to be set across all campuses, this task focuses on key learnings in the first two modules. Students are to create a presentation for parents and caregivers outlining the nature of young children’s spiritual and religious development and how this is nurtured in early years prior to school and/or school settings in ways that respect the religious diversity of all children. The presentation is to be accompanied by supporting notes and is to be equivalent to 2,500 words. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2 

The focus of this assessment will be on students’ advanced knowledge and understanding of religious education in both its dimensions: the classroom religion program level and beyond the classroom religion level, that is, prayer, ritual and liturgy. It will be an extended written task that could be a statement to be included in the School Handbook or a short article for the local diocesan curriculum journal. It is to be equivalent to 2,500 words. 


LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2009). Belonging, being & becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia – Information for Families. Retrieved 13 March 2012 from 

Grajczonek, J., & Ryan, M. (Eds.) (2013). Religious education in early childhood: A reader. (Rev. ed.). Brisbane, Qld: Lumino Press. 

Grajczonek, J. (2012). Interrogating the spiritual as constructed in Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(1), 152-160. 

Hay, D., & Nye, R. (2006). The spirit of the child (Rev. ed.). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.  

Hyde, B. (2010). A dispositional framework in religious education: Learning dispositions and early years religious education. Journal of Beliefs & Values, 31(3), 261-269. 

Hyde, B. (2013). Children's play, spirituality and children's 'school work' [online]. Religious Education Journal of Australia29 (1) 3-8. 

Kim S. B., & Darling, L. F. (2009). Monet, Malaguzzi, and the constructive conversations of preschoolers in a Reggio-inspired classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37, 137-145. 

Samuelsson, I. P., & Carlsson, M. A. (2008). The playing learning child: Towards a pedagogy of early childhood. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 52(6), 623-641. 


Key Websites 

Archdiocese of Brisbane, Sacramental Policy 

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd 

Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne: The Seven Sacraments of the Church 

Drawing up a school's policy on Celebrating Eucharist. Brisbane Catholic Education and The Liturgical Commission 1996 

Godly Play 

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