Seeking fair, friendly, firm, flexible, and fun teacher!

Sunday Morning Teacher Wanted!

Beginning June 2 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Upper Valley in Norwich, VT:

On Sundays from 9:45 to 12:45, I would like to hire an adult to lead a multi-age group of kids with assistance from a volunteer. Check out the program here.

• Follow a curriculum of gathering, opening circle, & activities. At about 11:25, the children will clean up and have closing circle with you – thereafter, it’s an hour of child care for those parents who have church meetings and responsibilities, then 15 minutes of cleanup.

• Provide safety & supervision in our beautiful Meetinghouse and grounds.

• Feel open to the religious part – for children it’s all about being kind to one another and to the Earth and observing simple ritual opening and closing. Unitarian Universalists believe with all our hearts that every free faith in the world has wisdom to share – including the wisdoms of science, Islam, atheism, neopaganism, Zoroastrianism, poetry, Christianity, indigenous faiths, Anansi stories, Buddhism, Judaism, …

• The summer program is a one-room schoolhouse caring for every age from tiny through middle school – and a very small number of children are expected each week. If you want this as only a summer job, that’s OK! Beginning in September, the position is cheerfully expandable to focus on the teacher’s best age group to work with – we run three or four different age-groups during the school year.

• Training & troubleshooting provided by the program director. There is also a chocolate stash.

This opportunity is great for someone ready to establish their credentials, try out teaching, and to meet thoughtful families who often need child care. It’s also ideal for the active person who loves stories and adventures, but perhaps your own grandchildren are far away and you just need some Young People time.

The ideal candidate is at least 18 years old, holds some kind of safety training and awareness (such as First Aid/CPR, Lifeguarding, or Babysitting certification), and must pass a background check for safety working with children. The ideal candidate will be a great role model of speaking truth with kindness, living authentically in a way that honors the Earth, and genuinely supporting our diverse kids from diverse families. They will have experience with kids, will enjoy exploring outdoors, will be able to invent games on the spot, will know that letting kids figure out their values is of tantamount importance.

I can’t wait to meet our new teacher! Reach me at

Sparrow F. Alden, Credentialed Religious Educator

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Upper Valley

Kids’ Big Questions

One of our great moms sent me a question recently:  How does UUism respond to kids’ big questions about war, death, injustice?

Such things can’t always be summarized  – or even articulated sometimes! – but here’s my impression.

  • Before there are ever Big Questions, build up the relationship of trust about everyday questions.  Will you or won’t you take their questions seriously?  Will you respond with facts?  Or with a story?  What is your style?
  • Double-check what your child wants to know.  Is a question about death asking about consciousness?  souls?  decomposition?  or how to mourn?  “I think you’re asking X, did i get that right?” is a very respectful and useful way to suss out the correct meaning.
  • Wrestle beforehand with walking the land between two unhelpful parenting extremes: dictating what a child may express as their own beliefs, teaching them to not inquire of their own intuition, or leaving the field completely unguided, allowing a charismatic cultist to fill the void.  My path has often been “Here’s what I’ve heard, here’s what I’ve considered, this is what I’ve concluded for now.”
  • I use the Six Sources as a way to explore
    • acknowledging that our own sense of transcending mystery and wonder takes precedence,
    • then inquire of different faith traditions, the findings of science, and admirable people for what wisdom has already been articulated,
    • finally passing those other thoughts back through the filter of the first source – my own inner wisdom and connection to the mystery.
  • And then I take it right back to my kids.  Check their spot step on the path of spiritual development and decide is it time to model what your family believe and does (preschoolers)?  Time to tell a story and ask questions so that they wrestle with and articulate their own ideas (elementary school)?
  • Don’t forget – model “That’s where I am right now – I might have a better understanding later.”

That’s what UUism says – and that’s where I am right now – I might have a better understanding later.

Sparrow’s reading parenting articles again…

I have admired Maria Montessori’s philosophy since I began  learning about it early in my career, and just ran across a short article on the core of her thoughts.  I rather hate the title of the article, but let’s blame that on the writer trying to make his article click-bait-worthy.   Please replace in your mind the word “Commandments” with “Reminders” and the words “the Perfect Parent” with “a More Mindful Parent”.  Enjoy, friends.

Jedi Mindfulness

I have always wanted to incorporate the image of the Jedi knights into how I teach and approach children, yet I struggled with the Star Wars’ canon idea that one must let go of emotion to use the Force.  that was counterintuitive to me.  Fortunately, I found this delightful article to share with everyone, in which the author goes beyond the basic movie idea (as well as talking about its limitations).

Peace, Sparrow