Our cooperative church school program is committed to providing a valuable, up-to-date and pertinent curriculum for each grade, preschool through 8th. The RE Committee and Director of Religious Exploration regularly review the curriculum to ensure that it is inclusive, contemporary and appropriate within our community. While most of our curriculum has been developed by the UUA, it is regularly modified to fit the particular needs and expectations of the First Parish in Needham community. Assignment to a particular grade is generally determined by the child’s regular school grade.
Collectively, our curriculum is aimed at meeting the needs of young spiritual explorers and emphasizes things such as values and ethics; UU history and heritage; community; social engagement; faith-based health and sexuality; religious exploration and self-discovery.
This course provides preschoolers with experiences and opportunities to grow in trust and caring and to develop their self-identity and sense of connectedness with all of life. An emphasis is placed on building loving and caring relationships with others and in respecting the web of life. Preschool class regularly utilizes play and other activities to engage the children.
This curriculum affirms the inherent worth and beauty of human compassion. Using “gifting” as a theme, this curriculum introduces a number of ethical concepts in an age-appropriate way. Children and guides explore how and why we welcome others into our lives and stresses that this process includes not only strangers, but family, peers, neighbors and others. This class is a part of the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith series.
In first grade, we introduce our children to the stories of people from the Bible who have acted with courage and wisdom in their attempts to lead their lives fully and make the world a better place for others. We use these examples to not only understand what it means to work for change, but to encourage children to think of their own lives and how they can become courageous and active as they grow.
This Tapestry of Faith curriculum takes children on a pilgrimage of faith, exploring how Unitarian Universalism is relevant in their choices and everyday actions. Stories about real people model how participants can act faithfully as UUs in their own lives. The children begin to develop an understanding of and appreciation for our 7 Principles.
Moral Tales provides third graders with the spiritual and ethical tools needed to make choices and take actions reflective of their Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values. As much of our curriculum does, Moral Tales, draws regularly on our seven UU Principles. This is another one of our Tapestry of Faith courses.
Taking a deeper look at Unitarian Universalism in thought and practice, we encourage children are to reflect on the qualities of our UU faith. Examining concepts like integrity, courage and love, the children build a set of tools useful for living their lives faithfully. This Tapestry of Faith curriculum is highly experiential and engages the children through age-appropriate symbols and metaphor.
The second step of Our Whole Lives, this class introduces pre-adolescents to life concepts including puberty, sexuality, and health. Lead by trained OWL facilitators, this class requires parental permission and parents are asked to attend a 90-minute orientation. This class lasts for ½ the school year only.
Lessons of Loss is a one-term class aimed at helping participants better understand and deal with loss at a material and abstract level. It is specifically designed to reach youth at a critical developmental moment. The class includes a chaperoned trip to the Eaton Funeral Home in Needham, a long-time partner with our RE program.