We are about to begin our new year in the Children’s Religious Exploration (RE) Program and this year we are trying something new. Our RE program will be using curriculum built around the Soul Matters themes used by the entire congregation.
The decision to use the Soul Matters themes came out of a brainstorm by some of our teachers and our Religious Exploration Committee. We were feeling a gap between what the children and youth do on Sunday mornings and what their parents and the rest of the congregation do. For example, the “Time for All Ages” during the service has often focused on the Soul Matters theme for the month, but then, once the kids were in the classrooms, the lesson would focus on something different.
Once we started talking about using the Soul Matters themes, we started to see many benefits to moving in this direction. The “Time for All Ages” will be part of the curriculum. By using the story told in the Sanctuary as our starting point, we will have more time for activities in class and won’t have to rush through the lesson plan.
Through our exploration of the themes, we will continue to learn about the UU Principles and Heritage, Religious Literacy, and Social Action.
One of the greatest benefits, we believe, is that children and their parents will be spending their time at church exploring the same theme. Families can continue their discussions of the themes at home. Dinner conversations, car chats, bedtime stories, movies, and books might start tying into the themes allowing religious exploration and education to be more than just a couple of hours on Sunday morning.
To help with this, I will be sending out a monthly email with ideas and resources about that month’s theme to weave into your family’s week. These will, of course, be only suggestions. You might do something every day or you might not do any of them. Or you might fall somewhere in between. Use them as it works for your family. And if you have ideas to add or something about which you want more information, please let me know. I am open to all suggestions. If your family is relatively new to our congregation, and not yet on our Religious Exploration email list, that is separate from the congregation email list for weekly ENews, please email me at Dir.RE@TahomaUU.com, and I’ll gladly to add you to our RE Family list.
Tying into the idea that a lot of religious exploration occurs outside the church walls, I am planning to offer a class titled “Parents as Primary Religious Educators.” While we try and offer a robust program on Sunday mornings, what we do will never replace the important role that parents have in teaching and guiding their children about all things, including religion and faith formation. The class will help parents explore their own beliefs, think about what they want their children’s religious education to look like, and develop practices and opportunities to share with their families. The class is still in development, so send me your thoughts on what you would especially like to explore. Dates for the class are not yet set, but it will likely be sometime this winter.
Here’s to a great year of RE at Tahoma UU Congregation!