Prairie’s Religious Exploration (RE) in person program is currently suspended due to concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic. Check out our virtual offerings here (contact re-committee[AT]uuprairie.org for the Zoom links.)
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:
- 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. Early in the service, they are invited (but not required) to come forward for the Story for All Ages. After the story, the congregation sings them out to their RE classes, but children are always welcome to rejoin their families there if they wish. Quiet activity bags are available for anyone who needs to fidget.
Prairie Religious Education Program has three overarching values. We strive to create programming that is:
In order to be truly responsive, we understand the value of providing students with choices about their learning each Sunday. Multiage, choice-based workshop learning provides a diverse way 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 to be student-interest led 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 Holly Tellander, Director of Religious Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TINIES (infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) are cared for by our childcare workers. They have weekly opportunities to practice social-emotional learnings skills 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 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 opening circle at 10 a.m.. Here they get to know each other better and calm/focus themselves for the morning’s activities as well as have the opportunity to reflect on the theme of the month. Middles are then offered a choice of workshop activities.
BIGS (middle school and high school students) – Through the 2019/2020 school year, our oldest learners will engage with adult mentors in a fun and engaging curriculum called ‘Neighboring Faiths’. This curriculum follows a three-week rotation in which students learn basic history, etiquette and foundations of a different faith tradition, visit a house of worship for the chosen faith to meet with faith leaders and/or engage in a service, and lastly engage in a follow-up discussion to deepen understanding and awareness of the issues pertinent to that particular faith tradition.
The goals of the Neighboring Faiths curriculum are as follows:
- To increase religious literacy, by introducing young people to the actual rituals and practices of various worshiping communities.
- To teach religious tolerance, by visiting faith communities with values that differ from their own, and explore how to best maintain a respectful demeanor during those visits.
- To support their growth into good world citizens by raising the awareness of the religious diversity of the U.S. (and the world) in young people.
- To have fun and sometimes challenging new experiences, to build a peer group that is supportive, and to expose older learners to thoughtful and caring adult role models in their own faith community.
Adult discussion mentors are always welcome. Please reach out if you are interested in this opportunity.
Periodically this group will participate in hands-on service projects that let them experience the satisfaction of teamwork and skill building.
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.
Prairie UU offers Our Whole Lives (OWL) age-appropriate education in human sexuality for grades K-1, 5-6, and 8-9. These sessions are conducted by facilitators who are certified to provide accurate, comprehensive information. Depending on the age of the participants, this program is conducted over 8 to 25 sessions on Sunday mornings during Prairie’s service.
During the 2019/2020 school year, Prairie will offer OWL education for grades 4th-6th. You can read more about the OWL program in general here. You can read more about 4th-6th Grade OWL learning objectives and experiences here. If you would like to register your child or would like more information, please contact Holly Tellander, Director of Religious Education at email@example.com.