Dear FUUSN Community,
What are the major influences in a child’s spiritual development and learning?
As religious educators, we talk about the triangle that supports a child’s spiritual development. We consider the bottom third of the triangle, the largest part and the foundation of spiritual learning, to be held by the parents and closest family members. Parents, in most instances, are the ones who have the daily conversations, answer the big questions as they come up, share in the wonder, and sooth our children’s tears and fears.
The middle third of the triangle, and second biggest influence on a child’s spiritual development, is the community or congregation in which the child grows up. Whenever the child is in or around the congregation they are absorbing the values of the congregation. They see how people treat each other and what the congregation prioritizes. This part of spiritual learning happens in worship, in coffee hour, and anywhere that the family is with the congregation.
The smallest section of the triangle, not in importance, but in influence, are religious education classes. Even with the most wonderful teachers and effective curricula, children spend little time in RE classes relative to time spent at home and in the larger congregation.
All parts of the triangle that support a child’s spiritual growth and learning are important. As religious educators we are thinking more and more about how to support the critical work parents do at home to encourage their children’s developing spiritual understanding and experience. How is FUUSN successfully supporting parents to be their children’s primary religious educators at home, and how can we improve that support? This is a primary question that I bring to the table as I work with the Children’s RE Committee and all of you to envision an increasingly rich and effective children’s RE program here at FUUSN.
In faith and community, Amanda Graff