First Day Schools in our meetings are the familiar, nurturing, and sometimes challenging spaces for our children to be challenged, to grow in the Spirit and to grow in our community. There is a wide variation in the approach, the resources and the capacity for First Day Schools across the Yearly Meeting. Some meetings have one class for a small handful of children of all ages and some have five concurrent classes for specific age-groups. Many are run by parents, often new parents. Others have long-standing elders who have nurtured and grounded the children’s community for years. Some develop their own programs and some use curricula available through the Yearly Meeting and FGC. The Children’s Spiritual Life Committee (CSLC) is the Yearly Meeting committee who supports monthly meetings in caring for children and their journeys and is guided by this mission statement:
With attention to children within their communities of family, Monthly Meeting, Quarterly Meeting and Yearly Meeting we seek to: make space for children to seek, recognize and live in the Divine, through meaningful worship and wonder, and relationships with peers and adults; encourage structures which include children in the work and witness of their communities; provide tools to adults to support the above.
CSLC is currently in a place of renewal and growth. We are revising curricula and developing new ways to support meetings. To better live into our charge, the committee is seeking Friends’ input and active service in three ways:
First: We welcome your feedback on the needs of families, First Day Schools and meetings.
Second: We are seeking Friends who are interested in helping to support our mission and projects through being a member of the committee.
Our service to the Yearly Meeting community includes: helping to provide resource information and support for First Day School programs, writing and revising religious education curricula, writing articles for “FDS Today” a PYM e-newsletter, hosting the Family Neighborhood at Sessions, and supporting Children’s Religious Life Program staff and events. Are you called to be part of this ministry?
Friends who serve on this committee are: passionate about nurturing the spiritual journeys of Quaker children; First Day School teachers and religious education committee members (present and former) who have knowledge of the curricula available to monthly meetings and a vision for how to organize, implement, and make it accessible to teachers and meetings; educators with experience in child development and curriculum writing. The committee meets four to five times a year in Philadelphia or at a monthly meeting in the region. We welcome children and provide childcare.
Third: We are seeking input and candidates for a new initiative: First Day School Consultants.
Consultants are Friends with experience in FDS or work that supports children’s spiritual lives with an ability to guide and teach others. Their role is to respond to queries and requests for help from monthly meetings. The response may be via email, phone or visit – depending on the need of the meeting and the availability of the consultant. Consultants are volunteers who are invited or led to apply for this position. The Children’s Spiritual Life Committee is reviewing this initiative at our autumn meeting and welcomes comments on the draft of the job description and the procedures for the program.
Comments, letters of inquiries for the Consultant initiative and queries into committee membership may be sent to the Children’s Spiritual Life Committee.