Looking Ahead to Next Year In Religious Education for Children and Youth
From Melinda Walker, chair of the RE Committee for Children and Youth
It has been my pleasure to be the Religious Education for Children and Youth chairperson for the 2014 to 2015 church year. It has been an exciting and challenging year of growth for this program. Our children have participated in social action projects and explored and discussed many of the same topics that the Rev. David Carl Olson and adults discussed “upstairs” during the service.
The 2015-16 church year will continue to be a time of transition for religious education.
In the RE Committeeâ€™s discussions with children, parents and the Board of Trusteesâ€™ listening sessions with the wider congregation, we have identified some opportunities for growth. Our goal is to make our religious education program even more vibrant and meaningful for the youngest members of our congregation.
For the fall, we plan to use the excellent curriculum resources available through the Unitarian Universalist Association. We will also be grouping our teachers into supportive clusters with the autonomy to organize their own schedules and lesson plans. There will also be structure and support from more experienced volunteers and the religious educator wherever and whenever needed.
We are planning an orientation and training in August to help all our teachers have the tools they need to be successful. We envision being able to further divide our children by age in the coming year to better address their developmental needs.
Pending recruitment of enough volunteers, we would like to have a preschool class, two young elementary classes, an older elementary class and a youth group. To help provide the consistency that the preschoolers require – we hope to continue to employ Laurissa Hurst, our excellent experienced educator, supplemented by youth and adult volunteers.
We want to continue to have adults from the wider congregation visit our classrooms and to provide the richness of their experience to enhance our programming.
Finally, we hope to experiment with a new design for Sundays during the next church year. There would be Religious Education for all ages in the first hour (times to be determined) and then Worship for all ages for the second hour.
The exact details of how this might work for our youngest children as well as providing childcare are being discussed. This approach, which has been implemented in other churches, allows children to engage in the life of the upstairs church and allows our religious education volunteers to nurture their spiritual needs.
I have had an exciting year with the children and youth of First Unitarian and will cherish the many lovely experiences it has provided. I plan to continue as an active member of the RE Committee for Children and Youth and to assist whomever volunteers as our next chair, to ensure a smooth transition. I also plan to continue my work as a lead teacher in one of the teaching teams.
Thanks to all the many volunteers who made this year so successful and to those of you considering being part of the religious education for the children of our congregation.