CHILDREN & YOUTH CLASSES 2013-14

September 19th, 2013

Children and youth in Preschool (3 years) through high join the community for the first part of worship at 11 a.m. and then go to their prospective classes until 12:30.

NURSERY (birth-4 years)

We provide a safe, clean environment in which to support each child in initiating play activities at the developmental level they manifest. Each week our paid staff provide a loving presence as they engage children in games, stories and crafts with seasonal and holiday themes throughout the year.

3-5 year olds The Spiritually Growing Child

This curriculum is based on the philosophy that young children learn about religion through relationships. What is a person? Who am I? How am I related to others? What are my responsibilities? What kind of world do I live in? These are religious questions that children begin to answer as they become acquainted with themselves, other people, and their environment; all responses are mediated by the significant adults in their lives. Each week the children look and listen to an engaging picture book that reflects the week’s central theme with accompanying activities. Themes from September –June include: Individuality, Earth Day, Cycles of Life, Harvest, Thanksgving, Christmas, Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Family, Golden Rule, etc.

1st-4th Grades Moral Tales / Signs of Our Faith: Being UU Every Day

Each session has a central story in which participants meet real and fictional heroes and heroines who have displayed moral courage and spiritual greatness. They will hear about characters who have struggled, but who have chosen justice, goodness, and love. All sessions include hands-on activities to make learning accessible to individuals with various learning styles as well as structured exercises for questioning, reflecting and self-expression. The goals of the curriculum are to help children begin to build a personal moral compass. Through their exploration of goodness and justice we hope children will be grounded in Unitarian Universalist ethical beliefs, moral values and spiritual practices that can not only transform the individual, but transform the world, as well.

5th-8th Grades Junior High Youth Group
Amazing Grace: Exploring Right and Wrong & Riddle and Mystery

The junior high youth group will explore two curriculums this year. The first curriculum, Amazing Grace: Exploring Right and Wrong, equip youth for moving safely and productively through the middle- and high school years, when they will be continually tugged toward both ends of the ethics continuum. Through their involvement in Amazing Grace, youth will come to recognize and depend on their Unitarian Universalist identity and resources as essential to their movement toward understanding, independence, and fulfillment of personal promise.

Riddle and Mystery purpose is to assist youth in their search for understanding. Each session introduces and processes a Big Question. The first three echo Paul Gauguin’s famous triptych: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? The next ten, including Does God exist? and What happens when you die?, could be found on almost anyone’s list of basic life inquiries. The final three are increasingly Unitarian Universalist: Can we ever solve life’s mystery? How can I know what to believe? What does Unitarian Universalism mean to me?

In addition to the Sunday morning curriculum youth get together for once a month social activities-First Friday Fun Nights, join with other middle school youth for weekend conferences: Middle School Unitarian Universalist Gatherings MUUGS (Middle School UUs) and a junior high backpack trip in June.

9th-12th Grades Senior High Youth Group (Youth Group Room)

The senior high youth group meets on Sundays from 11:30-12:30. The group offers its members a safe place to share their lives and find support and friendship among open minded and loving peers. The group engages in discussions about issues relevant to youth’s lives and communities. They plan social and service projects throughout the year. And they participate in youth conferences in area Unitarian Universalist churches under the auspices of the Pacific Central District of Unitarian Universalist Congregations and Y.R.U.U. (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists) PCD YRUU . The youth group’s empowering philosophy educates youth to be leaders within the group, church community and denomination.

7th-9th Grades
Class Begins In January 2014
Curriculum: Our Whole Lives
Sexuality Education

Our Whole Lives is based on the philosophy of comprehensive sexuality education, which helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, comprehensive sexuality education provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, social, and political aspects of sexuality as well.

7-9 OWL PARENT INFORMATIONAL MEETING, SUNDAY, SEPT. 22, 2-3 PM
7-9 OWL REQUIRED PARENT MEETING, NOV. 17, 2-4 PM
Class begins January 5-May 4, 2014

The spiritual journey of a child through our faith community

October 19th, 2011

Spiritual growth and learning is a life long journey that begins in childhood. A child is already a spiritual being; to be honored and listened to. We can learn much from our children as they can learn much from us. As Emuna Braverman writes: “We can learn a lot from our children if we are receptive. Their perspective is clear and pure, unclouded by “experience” and cynicism. They haven’t learned to be self-conscious and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. We’re touched by their vulnerability and we can learn from their simplicity.” We are spiritual companions with our children. We learn and grow together. This is the nature of our spiritual cooperative.

The children have classes and programs each Sunday and it begins when they are in the nursery and come to feel that this is a place that people care about them and want to get to know them. They make friends and have fun. And their journey continues in preschool where they are introduced to ritual and come to understand that this is their church and religious community. They celebrate holidays and share their emerging thoughts and feelings as we celebrate how each and every one of us is special. They come and sit on the labyrinth in the center of our round sanctuary and each week listen to a story for all ages. And when they get a little older they light the chalice that begins each service. It is a child that leads us into worship each week.

In the elementary years they learn the stories of remarkable people that made a difference in this world and are then given opportunities to do likewise through acts of service and social justice. They learn about the faiths of the world and how we are different and what we share in common. We get out of the classroom and meet people of other faiths and experience their worship life and spiritual practices. We make interfaith friendships and in the process find in the diverse religions we study what might be true for us.

When a child enters into middle school s/he goes on the yearly backpack trip in the summer and learns what it means to be in community where we depend on each other. We experience the deep satisfaction of accomplishing something we thought we couldn’t do. And away from the distractions of the plugged in modern world we get to know each other and experience the beauty and magnificence of nature. There are the youth retreats throughout the year with youth from other churches. There is the human sexuality program where youth learn how to make good choices for their health and happiness. And then as an 8th grader youth spend a special rite of passage year going on retreats and having an adult mentor from the church who helps him/her with the process of their coming of age. And then we have a big celebration at the end. There are also the monthly fun nights going bowling or playing games in the park with friends.

When you get into senior high you are now up in the youth room looking out above our social hall, where youth share their lives, joys and struggles with their peers and youth group advisors. Here is a safe place where youth can be themselves and know that they will be loved for who they are even if the world outside the church seems to be a hard and cruel place.

After church they go out to lunch with friends most Sundays. They spend weekends throughout the year with other Unitarian Universalist youth in conferences where they experience a youth empowerment culture that is organized and led by youth with adults serving in advisory roles. Here they make friends that last a lifetime and it becomes that one place that practices a radical hospitality no matter what color is your hair or what group you’re in or out of at school. There are the summer trips to the Channel Islands and to our partner church in Romania every four years.

Of course there is much more to the spiritual journey of a child through our faith community that happens through the course of a child’s growing years. But as religious educator Maria Harris says: “The church doesn’t have a religious education program. It is the religious education program.” This is what we offer children and their families: a religious community that partners with them through all that life offers.