Children & Youth/FDS
First Day School (FDS)
Gunpowder Meeting’s First Day School Program is designed to provide religious education in a nurturing and supportive environment. Classes begin in September and end in May.
The children begin each First Day by accompanying their parents to Meeting for Worship. Friends welcome their presence and expect the wiggles, giggles and whispers that accompany them. After 15 minutes of worship with all the gathered Friends, the teachers lead the children into the classroom, where they will often sing, read stories, complete hands-on activities and share in our Quaker learning experience. Young children are usually accompanied by a parent. As those children become more comfortable within the classroom setting, parents may choose to rotate childcare responsibilities among themselves.
First Day School teachers consist of parent volunteers from the First Day School Committee and Meeting Friends who kindly offer their assistance in the classroom on a regular basis. This provides opportunities for both children and adults in our community to get to know each other better.
Lessons are designed using a multi-age format so that every child can participate at his or her individual level. Some of the resources teachers use include Godly Play, Faith and Play and Lighting Candles in the Dark. Other important activities are Spirit and Nature and Service Projects.
Once each month the First Day School program includes a Godly Play/Faith and Play story. These stories are designed to introduce Young Friends to the stories from sacred texts (Old and New Testaments) and our Quaker heritage (George Fox for example). These sessions include time for interactive and reflective engagement with the stories by all listeners.
“Lighting Candles in the Dark” curriculum features stories from Quaker history of courageous people who used nonviolence and creative action to take a stand, often putting their lives in grave danger. “These stories illustrate our Quaker values and testimonies so well, describing actions of peace, simplicity and responsibility that are very important to life,” writes Virginia Wood.
Our monthly focus on Spirit and Nature in First Day School grew from the Meeting’s Spirit and Nature Minute calling for us to seek the Interconnectedness and Sacredness of nature and our calling to Right Relationship with our environment. In these sessions, we focus on awakening sensory awareness as we explore, learn about and develop connections with the nature of the Meetinghouse grounds. We consider these experiences as we reflect on excerpts from the Bible and historic and contemporary Quaker naturalists and spiritual thinkers. As we explore and play, we emphasize kindness for one another and for other elements of nature.
Using service projects, our children experience a sense of purpose and accomplishment through outreach into the community. Hoping to plant the seeds of a lifetime of committing our time and energies to just causes, we identify places where we can safely meet a group’s need. Some examples include making sandwiches and casseroles for “Our Daily Bread,” and collecting coins for schools left devastated by recent hurricanes.
For more information, please feel free to visit us on any First Day (Sunday), or contact Marilyn Rothstein at [email protected].