What To Expect
Our mission is to empower children, youth, and adults to grow in community and embrace their own lifelong spiritual exploration and growth. Along the way we champion personal responsibility, critical thinking, social consciousness, respect, tolerance, and understanding at home and in the world.
We acknowledge that parents are the primary religious educators of their children and affirm all family units, however they define themselves.
Through our programming we strive to provide a safe community where children and youth can question and grow their spirits. Parents can help create a safe community by talking with their children and youth about our TUUC covenant which includes embracing diversity in all forms, including age, race, gender, and affectional expression, socio-economic situation, and faith perspective.
How your child and family will be successful in RE:
- Encourage regular attendance in our Sunday program. We realize that there are occasions when families are unable to be at church. We also know that children and youth benefit from regular attendance so we ask that you attend as consistently as possible.
- Volunteer to help with the program. You are welcome to volunteer at any time after you have been attending for six months. Classroom volunteers should speak with the DRE for more information. You will be asked to sign a Code of Ethics, provide permission and information for a background check, and complete a mandatory orientation.
- Keep us updated. Let us know if your child has special needs or if there is a particular family or world event that is impacting your child or youth. If something doesn’t seem right after a particular Sunday, give the DRE a call or send an email.
- Sign up for the RE email list. When you receive an invitation to join the class email group, please do so. Much of our communication is done electronically and this will keep you up to date on what is happening in your child’s class.
It is critical that parents or guardians provide us with information such as special needs, allergies, or family circumstances so that we may serve each of your children in the best possible way. If you have questions or need clarification about the responsibilities of registration, please contact Indigo Lewis, DRE, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Children and Youth Religious Exploration FAQ Sheet
What Should We Expect on Sunday Mornings?
Our children begin each Sunday in the sanctuary and then move to classrooms for age group classes. Classes are interactive learning opportunities which often include story, art, and active play to help children learn about religion, values and justice.
At Tahoma UU when we say we’re family friendly, we really mean it. Every Sunday our children share the first part of the service with the adults in our beautiful sanctuary. They hear the opening, experience our ritual chalice lighting, share a hymn or a song and then are invited forward for a kid-friendly Story for All Ages. Then our congregation forms an arch over the aisle and sings the kids out to their various classes.
Children who don’t wish to leave are welcome to sit with their families; we have “busy bags” filled with quiet activities. Parents are also welcome in classes as visitors or helpers. Each class will work as a stand-alone lesson, but we find that the children of families who attend three Sundays a month have a deeper learning experience and their children are often more eager to come to church.
How do I drop off my child or pick them up?
Nursery and preschool-age children may be dropped off in the nursery beginning at 10:15am and must be signed in and out. Children in grades K-8 begin in the sanctuary and will depart for class after the Time for All Ages. Children in kindergarten & 1st grade should be accompanied by their parent from the sanctuary to the classroom and be picked up at the end of service.
Do You Need My Help?
Yes, please! Parents and caregivers are needed in many different roles. Register your child each year and indicate how you’d like to be involved, and then watch our weekly email to catch other opportunities.
The Tahoma UU “RE” program is a cooperative program that relies on the whole congregation donating time and talents in a wide variety of ways. Classes are taught by carefully chosen teams of people, both parents and non-parents, who commit to teaching a term of 9 Sundays. If you’d like to teach let the Director of Religious Exploration know, and we’ll see if there is a good fit for you.
We also ask parent/caregiver volunteers to help in the classrooms on a rotating basis as assistants. Other opportunities arise during the year with our breakfast fundraisers, work days, and birthday events.
A “yes!” attitude is deeply appreciated!
Do I have to register?
We rely on registrations to plan our program. Everything from the number of teachers needed to class groupings depends on an accurate count of children and youth in the program. Registrations also provide valuable information about health issues that may arise and provide signed permission for field trips, the use of photos, and communications. We encourage you to register after your third visit if you find that we are a fit for your family. Paper registrations can be found outside the DRE’s office, across from the upstairs bathroom.
I want to know what is happening in my child’s class.
Great! You are always welcome to drop in. You may also speak with the teacher and/or the DRE about any issues regarding your child or class. Please also look for email communication from the RE teachers and/or DRE.
What about safety, behavioral expectations and supervision?
We schedule at least two teachers in the classroom as a safety precaution and we background check all volunteers who work with our children and youth.
We will begin the year with the creation of a common covenant for all participants stating how they will “be” when they are together. When reminded of the covenant on a regular basis, children begin to take responsibility for their own behavior and model for others the respect that everyone should receive. In addition, a list of behavioral expectations and consequences for unmet expectations will be available in each classroom for you to pick up and take home.
All minors attending religious education are the responsibility of their parents, guardians, or those bringing them to the church. Please pick up your children in a timely manner once class is dismissed so that teachers may finish their duties for the day. Youth who attend without their parents on the premises are expected to follow any rules set forth in their own group as well as policies set forth by the Board of Trustees regarding the safe use of facilities, etc.
How do I prepare my child for religious education?
First of all, make it a priority to attend regularly. RE is a great opportunity to make new friends, build and maintain relationships with church families, and to discuss topics, feelings and current events in a safe place with peers and trusted adults. While we always strive to have fun, this is a learning environment and children are expected to respect the group’s covenant. You can help your older children understand they are modeling community and Unitarian Universalism for their younger classmates. Then, continue the religious education at home. Include rituals or reflections as part of your family life. Let the minister or DRE know if you need support in this endeavor. If your child is having a difficult time, please let the teacher and the DRE know. We will evaluate periodically during the year and may make changes to our format as the year progresses.
Thank you for your support!
Director of Religious Exploration