Dear Prairie Families,
I’m happy to announce that starting next Sunday, June 13th, Prairie’s Religious Exploration program will resume meeting in-person. Through prolonged and careful consideration the Religious Exploration Committee in conjunction with Prairie’s Board have decided that there is a serious need and desire for us to offer childcare on Sunday mornings during the service for children as well as having activities and providing adult volunteer facilitation for tweens and teens.
That being said, because of the unusual situation we find ourselves in due to the pandemic, we will provide specific guidelines for how we meet and engage with the children and youth for their safety, the safety of the congregation and the impact that our decisions will have on the wider community. It is important to note that these guidelines will be newly established within our community and are not permanent, but rather, will progress and possibly change as the pandemic unfolds.
To make Religious Exploration successful this summer we will need everyone’s help!
Flexibility and tolerance
Each Sunday morning we will assess whether we have adequate staffing for the day’s activities and if we do not we will ask that children stay with their families during the service or play in another section of the yard with the volunteers that are available.
We avoid situations where one adult is alone with a child, and we run background checks on our volunteers. At this time, we ask all our volunteers to wear masks throughout our activities and be fully vaccinated against Covid. Fully vaccinated means a person had their final vaccine dose at least two weeks prior.
- We will be asking for 2 fully vaccinated and background checked adults and often a third fully vaccinated (but not necessarily background checked) adult to accompany the younger children to the park down the street from Prairie.
- We will be asking for 1 fully vaccinated and background checked adult as well as a second fully vaccinated (but not necessarily background checked) adult to accompany the youth to the front yard of the Annex.
Click here to sign up as a volunteer (or tell us you won’t be volunteering). Thanks to those who have signed up but we are still a long way from being staffed for the Summer.
- Please check for symptoms before coming and stay home if appropriate. Click here for information on Covid symptoms and quarantine recommendations.
- Please schedule a potty break before leaving home or before your child leaves for the park.
- Please bring supplies for your children: a water bottle, sun hat, and mask.
- Please arrive early at Prairie’s backyard.
- Please have signed the Prairie Consent Form
- Sign in. We will ask everyone with a child attending the park to sign in with us and provide a cell phone number where they can be reached during the service.
- Please supply your own sunscreen and/or insect repellent for your child and apply it before we take off for the park.
- Answer texts or phone calls from volunteers. If one of the children we’ve taken to the park needs to use the bathroom, we will text the adult responsible for that child and meet you at Prairie so that you can assist them. (Airplane mode during service for everybody else to conserve bandwidth.)
Children and Youth
- Wear a mask (if you’re under 5, we know you might not be good at it yet)
- If you take it off to eat or drink, keep space between you and others
The Religious Exploration (RE) program strives to create and maintain positive relationships by living our principles and having fun together. Prairie UU learning rests on Four Pillars:
Pillar 1: Unitarian Universalism
Our denomination’s Seven Principles are woven through all our RE activities, both as topics of discussion and as guidelines for our behavior, This is a child-friendly version of our principles:
- Each and every person is important.
- All people should be treated fairly and kindly.
- We accept one another and keep on learning together.
- Each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.
- All people should have a vote about the things that concern them.
- We work together for a peaceful, fair, and free world.
- We care for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.
We provide opportunities for our young people to learn about and appreciate the Six Sources that inspire and inform Unitarian Universalists:
- The sense of wonder we all share
- People long ago and today whose lives and words remind us to be kind and fair
- The ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions
- Christian and Jewish teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves
- The use of reason and the discoveries of science
- The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life
Pillar 2: Social Justice
Our congregation works to promote equity and justice. For our students, we strive to offer a range of developmentally appropriate experiences that will give our students the opportunity to connect their lived experiences with those of others; to voice their concerns about justice issues that matter to them; and to do meaningful work with individuals in our congregation and local organizations that are working for change.
Pillar 3: World Faith Traditions
It is important to our congregation that our young people develop religious literacy and respect for the religions of the world. Our youngest students learn how people of different faiths celebrate the holidays of the year. As they grow, they learn more about the beliefs of the world’s important religions. Our teens have discussions with people of other faiths and visit a variety of houses of worship as they reflect on their own beliefs.
Pillar 4: Social Emotional Learning
We encourage children to understand and manage their emotions by practicing calming techniques and by taking the time to discuss emotions and conflicts honestly. We foster responsible decision-making by offering opportunities for children to choose their activities. We develop children’s ability to set and achieve goals by helping them acquire the skills they need, and by facilitating positive activities rather than directing them.
What happens on Sundays?
Preschool and early elementary students begin the morning with their families in the Meeting Room. Quiet activity bags (Busy Bags) are available for anyone who needs to fidget. Early in the service, children are invited (but not required) to come forward for the Story for All Ages. After the story, the congregation sings them out to their Religious Exploration (RE) classes, but children are always welcome to rejoin their families there if they wish.
We ask visiting families whose children participate in RE that day to complete a short visitor information form so that we may know of any medical or other special needs or concerns.
Prairie Religious Education Program has three overarching values. We strive to create programming that is inclusive, progressive and responsive.
Because we respect the preferences and interests of each individual, we provide students with choices about their learning each Sunday. Multiage, choice-based workshops provide diverse ways for kids to participate in learning about and exploring the four program pillars listed above. We strive to offer activities for all learning styles, activity levels, and engagement skills. These workshops are designed in response to student interests and family priorities and as such are always changing. If you have an idea for a workshop you’d like to share with the kids or that you think they would enjoy, please reach out to our Religious Exploration Committee at re-committee[at]uuprairie.org.
TINIES (infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) are cared for by our childcare workers. They have weekly opportunities to practice social-emotional skills such as sharing and taking turns through games, activities and free play. With the help of their caretakers, they can often join the older children in our workshop spaces.
LITTLES (grades K-3) After Story for All Ages in our Sunday Service, these students participate in an opening circle for sharing, learning, and focusing. After that, they are free to choose from the daily workshop choices.
MIDDLES (4-6th grade) go straight to their own opening circle at 10 a.m. Here they get to know each other better, reflect on big questions, and calm/focus themselves for the morning’s activities. Middles are then offered a choice of workshop activities
BIGS (middle school and high school students) – Our oldest learners participate in discussion-based programs to explore their own values and learn about the values of their peers, our congregation, and other faith communities. This group attends Sunday services that are of particular interest to them. From time to time, they participate in hands-on service projects that let them experience the satisfaction of teamwork and skill building. Individuals in this group may always choose to attend the service or work with younger children.
Several times a year, our young people participate with adults in intergenerational services. Our young people often contribute readings, skits, and music to our services. Youth, like other Prairie members, may do presentations on topics of interest in our services.
Human Sexuality Education
Prairie UU offers the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program to provide age-appropriate education in human sexuality for grades K-1, 5-6, and 8-9. Find more information about sexuality education at Prairie here.