Recently I attended the viewing and funeral of a dear Christian sister. One of her sons has two little children, a boy four years old and a girl two. They explained to them that Grandmother is asleep but her spirit went to be with our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. They seem quite comfortable with this.
At the viewing celebration the mother asked me a question. She said, "My son asked me what is the spirit. How do I answer him?" This really made me think about how we can explain this type of Christian understanding to little children in a way they might be able to understand, yet will not seem frightening, confusing, or spooky to them.
Thank you for your help and your web site.
Probably the best way to explain the spirit to children is by saying that it's the part of us that thinks and loves and talks and chooses. That part is invisible and on the inside, just like our body is visible and on the outside.
I would also use an analogy with a visual aid by picking up a glove and showing them how lifeless it is when just lying on the table. But when you put your hand in it and start to move your hand, the glove "comes to life," even though you can't see the hand. Our spirit is like the hand--it's what makes our outsides move and talk and love. So the children's grandmother went to heaven, leaving her body on earth, the same way that you can take your hand out of the glove and leave it behind on the table.
Does this help?