As a parent I always start to get a little anxious by mid-August. I know the summer is starting to wind down and, as much as I love my children, I begin to look forward to the routines of the school year. This week school calendars were coordinated, supply lists considered, and too-small clothes removed from dressers.
Similarly much of my work at TUUC in August is the planning and prepping for our new year in Religious Exploration. This summer the work has been particularly exciting as we put the pieces together for a new Sunday morning model of faith development, known as Labyrinth Learning!
Labyrinth Learning is designed for our Kindergarten through 5th graders and is a model that utilizes different learning styles so that children can self-select for what is best for their own learning. Notably, the model emphasizes the experiential and relational nature of religious education and faith formation.
Traditionally at TUUC we have used groupings of children based on grades, with each group following separate curriculum and prescribed activities. Labyrinth Learning brings K-5th grades together in a multi-age setting and allows for self-selected workshops. Some of the benefits of this model are:
- Multi-age setting allows for a fluctuation in size and attendance for the different grades, insuring that there will never be a class of just one or two kids by themselves.
- Teachers get to work in teams and will never be the only teacher in the room, allowing for greater compliance with the safe congregation policy and more community building among adult volunteers.
- The needs of the kids are better met – “quiet” kids have quiet options, “active” kids have active options, etc.
- Children who do not get along as well with their own age band are not restricted to that small group of children, but can make mixed-age friendships.
- Mixed-age settings foster different social skill building and let the older students mentor younger students.
- Overall, the program feels “less like school” which is consistently requested when the children are surveyed about what they want in Religious Education.
The Labyrinth Learning mornings will flow through a predictable format each Sunday we meet and breaks out into roughly four segments.
- Whole Group Presentation – Chalice Lighting, Offertory, Hymn, and Story
- Workshop Choices – Four choices ranging from active to silent: games, science, art
- Sharing Circles – A time to process the theme and workshop choice
- Whole Group Closing
Around that format we will build our content. Our year will be divided into three explorations.
- UU Identity – September to January
- Religious Literacy: The Abrahamic Faiths – January to April
- Social Justice – April to May
It’s exciting to be trying something new for us, and I’m looking forward to all the unknown surprises, successes, and challenges of building our RE community anew.
As always, please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns. Email is generally best, and I am onsite the first and third Sundays of the month.
Director of Religious Exploration