UUCPA RE newsletter: February, 2012

Welcome to the once-a-month email newsletter for the UUCPA children and youth programs! This newsletter is sent via email to all families with children and teens enrolled in the religious education programs at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. For your convenience, the monthly newsletter will also be posted on this blog.

Contents of the February, 2012, newsletter:
1. February calendar
2. Infant/toddler care information
3. Midyear evaluations
4. Note from Dan

1. February calendar

Tues., Feb. 7, 7:15 p.m.: Children and Youth Religious Education Committee meeting. Contact Heather Chen, chair, heather.chen@gmail.com
Sun., Feb. 12, 10:30-11 a.m.: Make Valentine’s cards for elders in Stevenson House next door.
Sun., Feb. 12, 11 a.m.: Parent Journey, discussion/conversation group for parents. Child care provided.
Sun., Feb. 12, 5-7 p.m.: Canvass Celebration — The annual party thrown by the Canvass Committee. They won’t ask you for money, they’ll just feed you pizza and beer (including root beer for kids), and provide child care. Please email childcare/at/uucpa/dot/org if you plan to bring your children to child care.
Sun., Feb. 26, 10:30 a.m.: Fourth Sunday Brunch, served by Edie Keating and the “Teal” Sunday school class.

2. Infant/toddler care information

Because several families have asked in the past couple of months, here’s a summary of the policies we have for infant/toddler care:

All children under three years old should go to child care in Rooms 7/8. We provide a 1 to 4 adult to child ratio there, and we have diapering facilities, so this is the place where we can care for children this age. (Some children want to keep going to child care in Rooms 7/8 after they turn three, and that’s fine!)

Child care for older children, called “Rainbow Chasers,” is provided in Rooms 2/3. We have a 1 to 10 adult to child ratio there, and no diapering facilities, so in Rooms 2/3 we can only care for children age 3 and up who are fully toilet trained.

3. Midyear parent/guardian evaluations

The Children and Youth Religious Education Committee would love to have your feedback on the mid-year parent/guardian evaluation form. If you have not yet filled one out, you can pick up a paper copy of the form this Sunday at UUCPA, or you can fill it out online (check your email newsletter for the link).

4. Note from Dan

This past month, we went over the attendance data for 2011. Children and youth attendance on Sundays at UUCPA was up 24%. This confirms what I’ve been observing, and what I’ve been hearing back from parents and guardians — on the whole, kids and their families enjoy coming to Sunday morning programs, and feel like they’re getting something out the programs.

This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement — because there is room for improvement. We have four big educational goals: 1. we want kids to have fun and feel part of a community; 2. we want kids to gain the basic religious literacy they should have in order to be good citizens of the U.S. and the world; 3. we want kids to learn the skills associated with liberal religion such as working groups, basic leadership, attending meetings, public speaking, basic musical literacy, etc.; and 4. we want kids to prepare kids to make a rational decision about whether or not they are Unitarian Universalist when they are old enough to decide on their own. I think we’re improving rapidly on that first goal, having fun and building community. And I think we do pretty well on the third goal — just by coming to Sunday morning programs, kids do learn many of the skills we want them to learn.

But I think we could do better at providing the religious literacy needed in today’s society. So I’ve been working on developing additional curriculum resources. Our 9:30 “Teal” class, open to children in grades 2-6, is piloting a curriculum that I’ve developed that aims to give children a better introduction to comparative religions. As I work with this new curriculum, I’m learning a lot about how children learn and process religious ideas, and over time I hope this will prove a positive influence on the program as a whole.

In the mean time, a 24% increase in attendance is something we can brag about. Our volunteer teachers and youth advisors are doing a fabulous job. We have a fun and worthwhile program. And if you have friend whose children would benefit from the kind of program we offer, think about inviting them to come join us in 2012. Wouldn’t it be great if we could maintain this pace of growth again next year!

Cheers, Dan

Rev. Dan Harper, Assoc. Minister of Religious Education
Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, California
“Transforming ourselves, each other, and the world.”

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