TRUU Religious Education – by Heather Rydell
Hi to all! I’m Heather Rydell, the director of our Religious Exploration program. I have a B.A. in education and psychology from Dartmouth College. I am a certified elementary teacher in Colorado and various eastern states. I am also director-qualified in preschool education, with many years of experience with a wide range of ages.
In our RE program I have access to wonderful curriculum and information on the UUA website (uua.org), where I find some great ideas. I also follow Gretchen’s monthly themes, so that families can continue the discussion together that they had separately on Sunday mornings . Although I guide the conversation, it is most definitely child-centered and age appropriate . If a topic emerges that is not centered on the theme, but is important or timely to the children, we go with it.
We welcome a wide range of ages. I will occasionally have the older children think carefully about the words they use, (they have spelled out a few), so that the sensibilities of the younger ones are honored. I want them to know that no topic, idea or concern is off limits if it is spoken respectfully. When the children return to the larger congregation I am always available to speak with their families about the interesting substance of our gatherings.
I’d like to share with our readers a recent example. You may remember the story that was read at a recent service: “The Workers and the Ranch Owner”. You can read it here if you missed it. After hearing the story the children headed down to our R.E. room. They each shared a piece of what they remembered about the story until we had a full retelling. Much discussion ensued about the fairness or unfairness of the situation. Finally they agreed on what I thought was a brilliant plan! They decided that the workers should meet in the evening and divide into two equal groups. Every work day they would trade off showing up for the early or late shift. Following this rotation would mean that they would each work an equal number of hours for the agreed upon pay of $20.00 ! Beautifully simple and cooperative.
We have an amazing group of youngsters and have such fun creatively thinking and sharing together. We have become a welcoming and supportive family. We encourage any of the congregation to join us and add your voice.