Children’s Religious Education

In a socially conservative area such as West Texas, parents find our approach to religious education to be both refreshing and affirming.  Children are exposed to religious images, ideas and dogmatism from many sources outside of a parent’s control.  There is no way around this if our children attend school, participate in sports or play with neighborhood children.

The 19th Century Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing said it best:

“The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own;
Not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own;
Not to give them a definite amount of knowledge, but to inspire a fervent love of truth;
Not to form an outward regularity, but to touch inward springs;
Not to bind them by ineradicable prejudices to our particular sect of peculiar notions;
But to prepare them for impartial, conscientious judging of whatever subjects may be offered to their decision;
Not to burden the memory, but to quicken and strengthen the power of thought;
Not to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment;
In a word, the great end is to awaken the soul, to excite and cherish spiritual life.”

To this end, we offer many opportunities for our children to learn and grow in cooperation with parents and the larger church community.

Spirit Play (K-6th Grades)

Story is the basis of the Spirit Play method used in the UUCOM program for kindergarteners through sixth graders.  It is based in Montessori philosophy and Unitarian Universalist content and uses a multi-age approach.  This year’s emphasis is on the general UU lessons (Chalice, Promises, and Sources Stories), and a story from each of the seven promises, some of the sources and several famous UU’s.  The Promises are the word we use for children for our seven Principles.SpiritPlay_7Promises_24x36Poster

Children will consider different UU themes through stories, “Wondering Questions” and self-guided activities (“work”).  Spirit Play deepens children’s experience in the classroom by creating understandable guidelines, age-appropriate rituals relating to our faith, and ways to participate in a community.  The program utilizes elements of the Montessori Method and Jerome Berryman’s “Godly Play” approach to Religious Education.  Each circle time is followed by a time when the children choose their work for the morning.

Children are offered a story with manipulatives, and then they wonder about it together.  They are not given definitive answers but are encouraged to figure out what the story means to them.  Each story has its own basket of materials kept in a particular place on the shelves so that children may further explore the story.

RE2After the story and wondering, the children move on to a work time where each child may choose from art materials or other stories as their work for the morning.  This program takes into consideration the multiple learning styles that children have and the multiple ways intelligence manifests itself in their activities.  It gives them a measure of freedom to choose activities that speak to them.  There is a great deal of freedom to move around the classroom during the work time, and then children come back together for a closing circle where the children share a “feast” (usually apple slices and water).  This method develops a community of children in a sacred space and gives children the spiritual language to talk about what is most important to them.

 

For more on the Spirit Play method, visit www.spirit-play.comRE

Intergenerational Service

Once a month children will participate in an Intergenerational Service.  All children ages 5 and up are encouraged to attend this service.  This is an opportunity for the children to be an integral part of our religious community.  Many of the services are interactive and the children may serve special roles in the service.  The topics are geared for the entire church community.

 

 

Childcare

Every Sunday we offer free childcare during the worship service (11:00-12:00).  Our childcare aid will provide free-play with the children.  Additional adult volunteers are added according to the number of children needing supervision.

Parent’s Night Out

Once a month, UU parents gather for an evening out while the children stay at the church for an evening in with friends.  The kids will have games to play and a movie to watch.  Parents are encouraged to bring a healthy snack for your child to eat during the movie and a pillow/blanket to sit upon.  Children must be registered with the Religious Education program for families to participate.  See the monthly newsletter for details.

Children will consider different UU themes through stories, “Wondering Questions,” and self-guided activities (“work”). Spirit Play deepens children’s experience in the classroom by creating understandable guidelines, age-appropriate rituals relating to our faith, and ways to participate in a community. The program utilizes elements of the Montessori Method and Jerome Berryman’s “Godly Play” approach to Religious Education. Each circle time is followed by a time when the children choose their work for the morning.

Children are offered a story with manipulatives, and then they wonder about it together. They are not given definitive answers but are encouraged to figure out what the story means to them. Each story has its own basket of materials kept in a particular place on the shelves so that children may further explore the story.

After the story and wondering, the children move on to a work time where each child may choose from art materials or other stories as their work for the morning. This program takes into consideration the multiple learning styles that children have and the multiple ways intelligence manifests itself in their activities. It gives them a measure of freedom to choose activities that speak to them. There is a great deal of freedom to move around the classroom during the work time, and then children come back together for a closing circle where the children share a “feast” (usually apple slices and water). This method develops a community of children in a sacred space and gives children the spiritual language to talk about what is most important to them.

 

Register your child(ren) for Religious Education here, and read the UUMidland RE Safety Policy here.