The following is adapted from “UU Religious Education and Your Child – Frequently Asked Questions” by Gaia Brown
Finding the right religious education program for your child involves asking a lot of
What kinds of things will my child learn?
Parents seeking a religious education program are often looking for a community of
shared values in which to raise their children. These values are the most important things we teach, but we also give children building blocks with which to form their own beliefs.
At Sky Island UU, we try to offer a balanced program including Unitarian Universalist identity, Jewish and Christian heritage, other world religions, and social action/justice.
How can you teach without doctrine?
The notable nineteenth-century Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing wrote, “The
great end of religious instruction is not to stamp our minds irresistibly upon the young but to stir up their own . . . to touch inward springs.” We have a strong faith in the inherent spirituality of children and see it as our task to nurture, not to indoctrinate. Our respect for the children teaches them respect-for themselves, for others, and for this fragile interdependent web of which we are all a part.
How do the children learn?
We begin with the understanding that children learn in different ways. That means that
we must offer multiple approaches that engage the child’s body, spirit, imagination, and
sense of curiosity. Stories, discussion, games, art projects, and music are just some of the means we use to help children explore their world and gain new knowledge and insights.
What will my child learn about big religious questions?
They will learn that all big questions have many answers, and that it is their duty to
search responsibly for their own answers. But we also give children a foundation on
which to build their own values. You can expect your child to learn that:
• there are as many ideas about God as there are people;
• we hold Jesus in the tradition of the great prophets and teachers, and we learn
from the example of his life;
• death is a mystery that is inseparable from life, and the only immortality we can
know for sure is that which lives on in the hearts and minds of those whose lives
we touch; therefore, how we lead our lives each day is of the utmost importance.
At what time on Sunday does children’s religious education start?
The children normally join the adults in the sanctuary at 10:30 for the first part of the service. After a “story for all ages” which usually teaches a lesson related to our 7 principles[link to www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles], the children go to their classroom for their lesson. Occasionally, there is an inter-generational service where the children stay in the sanctuary for the entire service.
Will our family be accepted?
This is probably the most crucial question many families ask, and we hope that you find
the answer to be yes. Unitarian Universalist congregations are deliberate in their
welcoming of all kinds of families; we feel that diversity is a treasure that enriches us all.
And many of our curricula for children encourage them to see that differences in factors
like race, ethnicity, abilities, and sexual orientation are part of the fullness of our world.
How should my child dress for religious education classes?
While some children enjoy wearing their “Sunday best,” most come prepared to play
outside, sit on the floor, and participate in potentially messy activities. Comfortable,
washable school clothing is appropriate.
How often should my child attend?
Children enjoy religious education more if they have the opportunity to make friends and
know what’s going on. For that reason, regular attendance is important. Of course,
circumstances like shared custody can make one family’s “regular” different from
another’s. Sports and other activities can also create conflicts with religious education. In these cases, parents must decide what their priorities are for their children.
What are my responsibilities as a parent?
Children learn values from their parents. You can help your own child learn the
importance of religious education by facilitating regular attendance, showing an interest
in what happens each week, and volunteering your own time to the program.
Additionally, just as the entire congregation supports religious education, so your
support-in terms of both service and financial assistance-is needed by the entire
congregation. You, in fact, become a part of that congregation (although not a “member” in the formal sense) when you register your child in the religious education program.
How do I register my child?
Please contact our Children’s Religious Education Chairperson, Kathy Scott, at firstname.lastname@example.org.