July is a very busy month for the Religious Education program. Although our Sunday morning summer programming is casual and play based, there’s a great deal happening behind the scenes in preparation for the start of the 2015-2016 school year. There are curricula to be ordered, registrations to process, volunteers to be recruited, schedules to be made, materials to be purchased, and classrooms to be readied!
RE registration will begin July 15th and can be done online. This year’s curricula will include some traditional favorites as well as some brand new offerings. Following is a brief synopsis.
- Infants – age 3: NURSERY; a warm, loving space where children are played with, read to, and provided with lots of TLC.
- Pre-K & Kindergarten: Spirit Play; The goal of Spirit Play is to help children live into their own answers to the existential questions: Where did we come from? What are we doing here? How do we choose to live our lives? We use the Montessori approach, in which the key elements are the prepared classroom environment and the teachers. These elements free the children to work at their own pace on their own issues after an initial lesson or story within a safe and sacred structure shepherded by two adults.
- Grades 1 – 3: Super Heroes; In this class the first half of the year focuses on “super heroes” from the Bible, while the second half of the year explores Unitarian Universalist super heroes. The goal of this curriculum is to encourage the children to lead their own lives fully and to use their own positive “super powers” as they interact with the world around them, and as they do so, to grow both spiritually and ethically.
- Grades 4 & 5: Spirit of Adventure; What? No more gold sprayed macaroni crafts? Not in this class! Religious education has been defined by fine motor activities and table crafts. This curriculum adds different kinds of learning, the learning from physical movement and the learning from challenge and adventure. It teaches UU identity without the usual arts and crafts projects and includes activities like dissecting a computer, building cantilevered architecture using graham crackers, interviewing a sports coach, eating smoked oysters, and singing Jingle Bells in “dog” language!
- Grade 6: Traditions With a Wink; This curriculum teaches an understanding of UU faith that can replace the vague “We can believe anything we want to” statement with: “We come from a long tradition of questioning and searching. We come from a long tradition of loving kindness and good works.” The goal of the curriculum is to teach our UU traditions while adding the fun with which youth connect to issues and stay enthusiastic about their church experience.
- Grades 7 & 8: Our Whole Lives (OWL); This curriculum, taught by trained facilitators, provides honest, accurate sexuality education. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives.
- High School: Breakfast Club; This bi-monthly class offers youth in grades 9 – 12 an opportunity to come together to discuss a variety of topics including social justice, racism, privilege, spiritual practices, and more. This year’s theme, selected by the youth, is hunger & homelessness. The topic will be explored through movies, TED Talks, and community service projects.