A Religious Education message from Gina
The summer is nearing an end, and I must admit this makes me a bit sad. You know that parent on the Staples commercial joyfully singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” as they shop for school supplies with their kids? Let’s just say I can’t relate! While I feel blessed that my children attend great schools where they are both very happy, the truth is I love having them around. I love the freedom that summer affords our family—the absence of homework, the relaxed bed times, the impromptu trips to Shady Glen for an ice cream cone. On the other hand, the fall also offers some special treats—cooler weather, beautiful foliage, baked apple crisp. And of course the fall marks the start of a new year in Religious Education at UUS:E. I am really excited about this year’s RE program, and I look forward to seeing everyone on September 11th at the Multi-generational Homecoming Worship Service which will include a Blessing of the Backpacks and a slide show featuring “Back to School” photos of the students of our congregation, young and old alike! In the meantime, please check out this year’s curricula and programs.
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.
Grade 1: Super Heroes: In this class children begin a year-long exploration of the Seven UU Principles by learning about 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 2 & 3: Faithful Journeys: Participants embark on a pilgrimage of faith, exploring how Unitarian Universalism translates into life choices and everyday actions. In each session, they hear historic or contemporary examples of Unitarian Universalist faith in action. Stories about real people model how participants can activate their own personal agency—their capacity to act faithfully as Unitarian Universalists—in their own lives, and children have regular opportunities to share and affirm their own stories of faithful action.
Grades 4 & 5: Spirit of Adventure Part 2: 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—learning from physical movement, challenge, and adventure! It teaches UU identity with “out of the box” activities such as obstacle courses, treasure hunts, science experiments, and more. This curriculum was such a hit last year that we’re bringing it back again for another year of brand new adventures!
Grade 6: The Fifth Dimension: The “Twilight Zone” tackled a diversity of social issues and political statements not seen in shows of its time. The Fifth Dimension uses episodes of The “Twilight Zone” as the basis for in-depth discussions of a wide variety of topics. At each class an entire episode is viewed. After viewing, the class engages in discussion and activities, designed to encourage deep contemplation of issues.
Grades 7 & 8: Building Bridges: This is a world religions program designed to deepen youth’s understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. It seeks to broaden their knowledge of humanity and embolden their spiritual search. This exploration nurtures participants’ positive outlook toward other faiths and the people who follow them. Over the course of the year the group will visit or attend services of other religious faiths. (This class is for 7th graders, and 8th graders who have not yet taken the Our Whole Lives class.)
Grades 8 & up: Affirmation: Affirmation is a Coming of Age program for teens. Youth meet as a group and individually with a mentor from the congregation as they work toward distilling their beliefs within Unitarian Universalism. The program includes a UU Heritage trip to Boston, community service, two retreats, and culminates in a written credo statement presented to the congregation on Affirmation Sunday in May. (Participation in Our Whole Lives is generally a prerequisite.)
High School: Breakfast Club: This bi-monthly class offers high school youth an opportunity to come together to discuss a variety of topics including social justice, racism, privilege, spiritual practices, and more. Each year the group selects a topic which they explore in depth through movies, TED Talks, guest speakers, field trips, and community service projects.
Spiritual Practices Sundays: Once per month, generally on the second Sunday, the children will come together as a group to learn about spiritual practices. Each month a different spiritual practice will be explored, including prayer, meditation, yoga, gratitude, collage, and more. When we expose our children to spiritual practices we equip them with tools they can use throughout their entire lives to cope with struggles, live compassionately, and hold onto their innate connection to something greater than themselves.