Curriculum (Children & Youth)
Our Religious Education Curriculum
Our religious education program for children and youth runs on a three-year cycle. In the first year, we focus on what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist, learning about the origins of our religion, our Seven Principles, and famous UUs through history. In the second year we turn our focus outward, learning about and seeking wisdom from Judaism, Christianity, humanism, and other religious traditions. In the third year, we turn our focus to how we as UUs can work together and with other people of good will to make our world a better and more just place.
In 2017-2018, we are on the second year of our cycle, so our curricula focus on teachings and traditions of the world’s religions.
We are still finalizing our teaching teams for the coming church year. In the meantime if you have any questions please contact our LRE Team Leaders, Jennifer Klein or Bill Pokorny. You can reach both via e-mail at LRE@uusg.org.
Our nursery staff provide a safe and fun environment for the youngest members of our community. The nursery is available for infants, toddlers, and kids through Kindergarten or age 6. Kindergarteners who are ready for a more structured environment are welcomed into K-2 class during the regular church year. Children in the nursery will be offered age-appropriate activities including play time, art projects, and stories.
Grades K, 1 and 2
Stories About God
Our K-2 curriculum offers students a variety of experiences with that which people call “God”: ultimate reality, values, and mystery underlying the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of life. The curriculum helps children develop a language with which they can speak about God and related ideas, and exposes children to a wide variety of stories about God. Lessons draw from world religions, feminist experience, science, and the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of everyday life. Students will come away with an understanding that God can take many forms and be called by many names. They will have an opportunity to express their own thoughts and feelings on the idea of God.
Grades 3, 4 and 5
Holidays and Holydays
Elementary school children in grades 3 through 5 will explore different religious traditions by focusing on their special holidays and holy days. Students will learn about what traditions different religions observe and the significance behind the celebration. The curriculum focuses on those holidays that lift up values that we as UUs affirm or address a universal human response to life. It seeks to honor the diversity and particularity of cultural traditions, and at the same time the commonality of the human condition. Some of the celebrations include those introduced by famous Unitarian Universalists. Other lessons are drawn from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions from around the world. Students will learn why we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and Earth day, among many others.
Middle School and High School (Grades 6 through 12)
Our middle and high school youth will explore world religions through the Building Bridges curriculum, which is available online from the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Here is the description from the UUA’s website:
Building Bridges is a world religions program to deepen youth's understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. It seeks to broaden their knowledge of humanity and embolden their spiritual search.
The program is organized roughly chronologically, capturing the strong parallel between societal change and religious evolution over human history. The Religions Time Line helps illustrate the emergence of religions in clusters at different points in history. However, this is not a history course. It is a series of workshops that attempts to lovingly and reverently examine some of the closest kept treasures of the human heart. This exploration nurtures participants' positive outlook toward other faiths and the people who follow them.
The highlight of the program will be offsite visits to several local faith communities. Dates and arrangements for these visits will be shared with program participants as soon as possible. Adult drivers and chaperones will be needed to make these trips possible.
Junior High Youth Group (Grades 6 to 8)
On one Saturday each month (October through May) at 7 p.m., our Junior High youth gather together and grow as a community. Activities will be planned primarily by the youth and alternate between on-site games (flashlight tag, sardines) and off-site events (movies, hikes, laser tag, etc.). Information is sent to all participants via email as events are scheduled.
Coming of Age (Grade 8)
This program for youth going into high school is a deeper exploration of the meaning of congregational membership and growing into adult responsibilities. Adult mentors develop relationships with youth to aid them in a deeper personal exploration and discussion of their beliefs.
This curriculum prepares our youth for their changing roles and their choice of whether to join the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva as student members. Meetings on Sundays and weeknights if needed every week in April and May. More information will be given directly to families of 8th graders.
Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU)
In YRUU, youth and adult advisors work together to build community, develop youth leadership, and engage in worship and social action. Our youth develop ties to our area congregations and wider UU youth movement by attending district YRUU conferences. Other activities during the year may include overnights at our church, social justice outings such as volunteering at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, or singing songs and playing games around the fire in the fall.
In January and February, our YRUU youth will plan and then lead a worship service for the entire congregation. Youth will learn what goes into planning a worship service, explore a theme of their choosing, and enjoy opportunities for public speaking, performance, and fun.
The culmination of our YRUU program is an annual Habitat for Humanity ministry trip. During the year, students participate in fundraising, planning meetings, and training sessions, which culminate in a ten-day out-of-state trip over the summer during which they help a local Habitat for Humanity group build a house for a family in need.
Our Whole Lives (OWL - Grades 7-8 and 10-12)
We believe that honest, accurate information about sexuality and relationships can change lives, and save lives. It dismantles stereotypes and faulty assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and opens the door to honest communication. We are very proud to offer the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education curriculum for middle and high-school youth.
The Junior High OWL program is open to students in grades 7 and 8 during the winter and early Spring as a series of four overnights.
Senior High OWL is typically offered during the summer for students who will be entering Grades 10 through 12 in the following school year.
There is charge for each child that helps to defray the cost of volunteer training, the program book provided to each student, food, and supplies. If this cost represents a hardship for your family, please speak with the Senior Minister or one of the LRE Team Leaders. Scholarship funds are available and no youth will be excluded for financial reasons.
Please watch the announcements for further information about this year’s OWL offerings.