Kylie Stacey is an early childhood music teacher, musician, songwriter and author, with a passion for encouraging young children and parents to connect with Jesus through music. Her original Playful Worship introduced a new kind of children’s worship, with Playful Worship Book 2 she adds to this exciting resource. She talked with Sofia Mendez about her music and books, and the Playful Worship experience.
What inspired you to write the Playful Worship books?
Playful Worship evolved during a number of years in which I was running Beginner’s Sabbath school with my husband Brenton. As an early childhood music teacher, I had previous exposure to an array of outstanding music and activities for babies and young children. When I began to look for similar resources that had a spiritual component, I came up near-empty handed. The resources that I was able to find as a Beginners Sabbath school leader were limited and often out-dated, with minimal opportunities for parental participation. I wanted to create a Sabbath school that focused on parent–child connection and participation, with music that was engaging for babies and young children, so I began to write and record my own songs, activities and programs.
Did you have a specific goal in mind for the Playful Worship books when you wrote them?
My hope is that the parents of babies and young children become intimately involved in the Sabbath school times. That is the number-one goal! As parents, we are our child’s first glimpse of God. Playful Worship provides a space where children can become engaged physically in a fun and meaningful way with the love of Jesus, through their parent’s laughter, touch, words and cuddles. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see a room full of children bouncing on their parents’ laps, the laughter as children are tickled by their parents, or children being soaked in cuddles.
How has your work as an early childhood music teacher influenced your books?
Playful Worship can be likened to a spiritual early-childhood music class. Children are born musical, so music is a fantastic way to engage children in learning. The benefits of music-making for babies and children are worth sharing, so each activity in Playful Worship has a music focus. Wherever possible, activities are designed to engage the parent, creating interactive learning times. As with music classes, I strongly encourage parents in a Playful Worship Sabbath school to sit in a circle on the floor—at the child’s level. Circles allow us to model, create connections and community, create a physical safe boundary, represent equality and help us all feel like we belong. Musical experiences included in Playful Worship include bouncing songs, rocking songs, intentional singing opportunities, instrument play, peek-a-boo games, circle games, massage rhymes and cuddle songs.
"As parents, we are our child’s first glimpse of God. Playful Worship provides a space where children can become engaged physically in a fun and meaningful way with the love of Jesus, through their parent’s laughter, touch, words and cuddles."
Has music always been a major part of your life?
I started playing the piano when I was four, and have loved the instrument ever since. I completed a Bachelor of Music Therapy in 1998, and have always been interested in the positive impact music can make in lives and communities. As stated in my introduction to the book, “I am passionate about creating musical opportunities for young children, but my heart soars when music can be used for the purposes of Jesus.”
When you receive feedback from people using the Playful Worship books, how does it feel to know that you have made such a positive impact on the spiritual journeys of so many kids?
Incredibly humbling—yet so worthwhile. The positive responses I have received from leaders and parents across Australia and beyond have made all the hours worthwhile. I feel so thankful to God that this seed was planted in my heart. It has opened so many doors that I would not have even known existed. I feel incredible blessed to be taken on this journey.
Playful Worship and Playful Worship Book 2 are available from Adventist Book Centres.
Sofia Mendez is a student at Nunawading Christian College in Melbourne, and conducted this interview as part of work experience she completed recently at Signs Publishing Company.