The Nursery: Six Weeks to Two Years
Our paid caregivers warmly welcome infants and toddlers to our welcoming nursery. The nursery accepts children ages 6 weeks to 2.5 years. Children of all ages are also welcome in the service at all times, and there is a quiet room in the loft of the Sanctuary for those families who need a little more privacy. The nursery is open from 10:15 to 12:15 on Sunday mornings.
On Sundays when there is a multigenerational service offered (when all children and youth remain in the service to worship together), children up to age 4 can visit the nursery.
Story Time: Two and Three Years
Two and three year olds will learn about our covenant of love and acceptance this year. The young UUs in this class will learn through hands-on experience with the wonderful and wide world around them; stories about our faith that teach our history and principles; and play, which is the natural expression of the young child's heart and mind. We seek to teach children that the whole of their being is accepted as they are in this class.
Story Time begins at 10:15AM on Sunday mornings. Children are welcome to enter Story Time before the service begins or to listen to the Story for All Ages in the service and then come to Story Time after being sung out.
Spirit Play: Four and Five Years
Spirit Play is the Montessori approach to Religious Education. Adapted for Unitarian Universalism by Dr. Nita Penfold from Jerome Berryman's Godly Play program, Spirit Play focuses on the child's natural spirituality and wonder about the world to help the child engage in religious life.
The creators of Spirit Play see the purpose of religious education to be helping children live into their own answers to the existential questions such as “where did we come from?” “where are we going?” and “what are we doing here?”.
In each session, children will hear a story and then experience a time for art expression relating to that story or another story that was heard earlier in the year. The stories have a Unitarian Universalist focus and seek to build a UU identity through liturgical lessons pertaining to our central story, our covenant, our religious symbol the Flaming Chalice, our church history, and UU heroes. Many of our stories are about our Seven Principles, called Promises in this program, and our Six Sources. Others are about the mystery that some people call God.
Children who are 4 and 5 years old are welcomed into our Spirit Play classroom by a Door Keeper, who readies them for the lesson. The Story Teller leads the day's lesson and helps the children engage in the wondering questions about the story. Both the Door Keeper and the Story Teller assist the children during their independent expression time.
Kindergarten and First Grade “World of Wonder”
The World of Wonder is a Tapestry of Faith curriculum developed through the Unitarian Universalist Association. It focuses on our Unitarian Universalist seventh principle, instilling respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, and appreciation of nature’s beauty, excitement, and mystery.
Founded on the premise that direct experience in nature is essential to children's physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development, the World of Wonder curriculum engages children in direct experiences with the web of life, especially outdoors. It promotes a deep understanding of interdependence and teaches basic environmental concepts and processes. Children will learn to positively impact and promote the health of the interdependent web.
Second and Third Grades “Signs of Our Faith”
Signs of our Faith is a Tapestry of Faith curriculum developed through the Unitarian Universalist Association, focusing on living our UU values every day. It encourages participants to be faithful leaders in their congregations, communities, and the world.
This curriculum looks at how we live our values in everyday life and through rituals, and provides opportunities for participants to take the lead in congregational life in worship, service and group activities.
Fourth and Fifth Grades “Sing to the Power”
Sing to the Power is a Tapestry of Faith curriculum developed through the Unitarian Universalist Association. This curriculum affirms our UU heritage of confronting "powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love."
In this class, 4th and 5th graders explore the kinds of power that can create positive change. Their Unitarian Universalist identity will be enriched with stories of people who used their power for the sake of justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love. Participants experience their own power, and understand how it can help them lead.
Middle School: Sixth through Eighth Grades “Windows and Mirrors”
Windows and Mirrors is a Tapestry of Faith curriculum developed through the Unitarian Universalist Association. It is designed to nurture our youths’ abilities to identify their own experiences and perspectives and to seek out, care about and respect those of others. Youth learn to respect cultural diversity, and that there are always multiple viewpoints and everyone's viewpoint matters.
This curriculum guides our youth to identify and respect their own values, views and needs as well as those of others in a variety of contexts. It provides them with practice in observation, interpretation and critical thinking, and develops their empathy, open-mindedness and respect for differences, seen and unseen.
High School: Ninth through Twelfth Grades
At Westside, high school youth are active in congregational life in many ways, including their Youth Group activities, the Coming of Age program, acting as youth Chaplains, participating in committees and music groups, participating in worship, and working or volunteering in our RE program.
Coming of Age (COA) is a program that marks the transition from childhood to young adulthood. UU’s generally emphasize four areas in the COA experience: pairing youth with adult mentors; discussions and retreats that emphasize self-awareness and confidence-building; service to the church and community; and a culminating affirmation ceremony. We are offering a COA program this year for any high schoolers from grades 9-11 who have not yet had this experience. Youth and their families make a commitment to this program in the fall.
Youth in Grades 9 through 12 who are not participating in Coming of Age are encouraged to worship with us in the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings.
Youth also participate in retreats, weekend conferences, and leadership development opportunities throughout the year. To participate in off-site events, youth must be registered IN FULL and have special permission forms completed at the time of the event.
Youth Group: Ninth through Twelfth Grades
Discussion and experience are central to Youth Group as we explore our values and beliefs. Our program emphasizes learning, social action, worship, leadership, and community building. Each session includes opportunities for discussion, self-expression, and development of personal faith statements and spiritual practices. We also unpack our Seven Principles and learn how this covenant applies to our own lives.
Westside youth participate in retreats, weekend conferences, and leadership development opportunities throughout the year. To participate in off-site events, youth must be registered in full, and have special permission forms completed at the time of the event.
This group meets in the Youth Room from 7:00PM to 8:30PM on Sunday evenings.