Religious Education meets for an hour and 15 minutes on Sunday mornings, year-round, with the exception of a few scheduled holidays. That’s roughly 60 hours over the course of a year, and that doesn’t factor in days missed due to weather, illness, vacations, or the very real and justified need to simply stay home and sleep in every now and then! And while 60 hours might sound like a lot, it’s not nearly enough time to cover the many topics worthy of exploration in our RE program! That’s why it’s important to remember that Religious Education must not be limited to Sunday mornings. What happens on Sunday mornings is a mere introduction to a concept, principle, story, or lesson. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg, a starting point. Ideally the exploration doesn’t stop when you exit the meetinghouse, but instead carries on throughout the week via conversations with family and interactions with the world at large. Your child’s RE classroom is not just a small room with a table and chairs on the Garden Level. Your home is also the classroom. The community is the classroom. The congregation is the classroom. The Universe is the classroom!
Having said that, I also think it’s great when we can offer our children and youth opportunities to come to UUS:E to learn, have fun, and strengthen their connections to one another at times other than Sunday mornings, or in ways that defy the typical classroom experience. We had several such opportunities in January, and will have more in February. In January we began to explore empathy and resilience. A visit from three area therapy dogs was an especially popular activity with the kids. They loved holding and petting the dogs, and in hearing about the kind of work the dogs do, they learned a great deal about both empathy and resilience. On January 31st, just about the time when you will be receiving this newsletter, we will be holding a special Sunday morning RE session that focuses on empathy. It will include video clips, stories, discussion, and empathy building activities. On February 5th there will be a Friday Night Social for 6th graders and on February 7th there will be an afternoon mini-retreat for kids in grades 1 – 5. Both of these events will feature pizza, team-building games, crafts, and kid-created worship. Finally, on February 28th there will be a resilience-themed multi-generational worship service entitled “The Most Magnificent Thing!”
I encourage you to talk to your kids about empathy and resilience. Ask them to describe what the words mean and why they are important. Invite them to consider the ways in which they are resilient. As a family, try to recall all the examples of empathy or kindness you witnessed over the past week. Check out the list of resources below for more ways to discuss and explore these topics.
- Center on the Developing Child
- Resilience Series of Videos
- Developing Resilience & Grit
- Empathy in Action
- Sesame Street Empathy video