Children at the Church of the Redeemer
We value and respect the full humanity and spirituality of each child. Through age-appropriate programs, we strive to provide a quality experience that invites and equips each child to deepen his or her faith.
Infant and Toddler Nursery ChildcareNursery care for children age 3 and under begins at 9:30 in the nursery, located in the downstairs Sunday School wing. This ministry is provided by our staff childcare workers. Childcare is available almost every Sunday throughout the year; alerts as to canceled nursery care will be in the weekly email.
Sunday School begins with a lively time of prayer and praise through singing at 9:45. Children 3 and older are welcome to attend this time of worship before their classes begin at 10:00.
Godly Play: 3-year-old to 3rd grade
Our two Godly Play classes, the Prophets (3 year old - Kindergarten) and the Saints (1st - 3rd grade) gather for silly Christian songs with musician John Spressart Mayer in the Little Chapel in the Sunday School wing, beginning around 9:40. We break into classes with our Godly Play curriculum around 10:05.
Godly Play offers a Montessori-style, developmentally appropriate way of entering into and experiencing the biblical story. In Godly Play, we play with the language of God and God’s People in sacred stories, parables, liturgical actions and silence. Together we learn about God and our relationship with God through this powerful language, through our wondering, and through the community of players gathered together.
Children in the Saints class join the regular worship service around 10:35 to receive the Eucharist. The Saints class sits together in the front rows of the church with their teachers. Parents of children in the nursery or Prophets class who would like their children to receive the Eucharist are of course very welcome to come pick them up!
Children will remain in the sanctuary to meet up with their parents immediately following the service. Younger children enjoy extended work time and the Godly Play feast while remaining with their Godly Play Group downstairs. Parents should pick up their children from this classroom immediately following the service.
Living the Good News: 4-6th Grades
This classroom, called the Apostles Class, gathers at 9:45 in the Old Parish Hall for more involved discussion and activities than in the Godly Play classrooms. We find by fourth grade, students are ready to stretch themselves a little further and engage more directly with the big questions. The Living the Good News curriculum is an Episcopal, lectionary-based program--that means our Apostles class reads the same Scriptures as we hear in the main Sunday service, and has a chance to discuss and engage with them in a real way.
The Apostles Class also joins the main service for Holy Eucharist at the start of the liturgy of the table (around 10:35, after Announcements); they’re welcome to sit with their teachers and the younger students, or they may join their parents.
What Happens in Godly Play
At the Threshold
A doorkeeper waits by the door to the Godly Play classroom, warmly welcoming children as they arrive from Children’s Chapel at 10:00 am. He or she says, “I’m so glad you’re here. Are you ready to be part of a Godly Play classroom?”
Building the Circle
Children make their way into the room and sit in a circle around the storyteller. He or she talks quietly and easily with the children, building a community where each and every participant is warmly welcomed. The storyteller says, “We need to get ready for the story.” The storyteller then shows how by sitting quietly, legs crossed, hands at the ankles. Conversation yields to silence. He or she smiles and says, “Watch where I go to get this story.”
Presenting the Lesson
The Storyteller goes to get the materials for the day’s presentation –a box, a basket or a tray. Slowly, deliberately, the storyteller brings out the story figures and objects, gently moving and arranging them as he or she tells the story. The children’s eyes focus where the storyteller’s eyes and hands focus, on the small wooden figures, painted plaques or beautifully finished props moving in the circle. The lesson continues, moves forward… and concludes.
The storyteller sits back, but keeps his or her eyes on the figures. “I wonder… I wonder what part of this story you like best?” There is silence for a moment, and then a child answers… and then perhaps another. The storyteller affirms each answer. The storyteller continues, “I wonder what part is the most important?” Children name different parts. Every serious struggle to answer is, again, affirmed. “I wonder where you are in the story or what part of the story is about you?” “I wonder if there is any part of this story we could leave out and still have all the story we need?” The storyteller listens respectfully to every answer, repeating it, never calling one response good or another wrong. It is the child’s effort to speak theologically in a seriously playful way that is being supported.
The wondering sinks into silence. The children watch as the storyteller puts away the lesson. He or she invites them to think about what work they would like to do in response to the lesson. The children have been involved in the story and the wondering. Now that absorbed involvement continues as they, one by one, name what response they choose to make. Some play mindfully with the materials from the presentation or from other presentations. Others want to paint. Still others work with crayons.
The storyteller turns the room lights off: a silent signal (there is still plenty of light coming in from the windows). He or she waits a moment, until all eyes are on the storyteller, then invites the children to put away their work and gather for the feast – juice and a healthy snack. After all have been served, a prayer is said and the feast shared.
When the feast is finished, the storyteller draws the attention of the group to gather for a reading or song as each child waits to be picked up by his or her parent. When a parent arrives at the entrance of the classroom, the doorkeeper quietly escorts their child to the door, looks into their eyes, smiles, and quietly says, “It was a pleasure to have you here today. Thank you for being with us.”
Helpful tips for parents
When you pick up your child, keep in mind that young children will not always be able to tell you what they learned, because what they learned was how to learn about the powerful language of the Christian people.
Children will not always be able to show you a physical product for their “work” that day, because some of what they’ve learned cannot be put into words even by adults. In Godly Play, we focus on our relationship with God and the depths of relationships in the community of children.
Please don’t enter the room during class because we want the Godly Play room to be a special place for the community of children. There will be designated “Parent Participation Sundays” when parents will be invited and encouraged to experience an entire Godly Play session.
Godly Play classes end at 11:00 am, except for those who are joining the regular worship service for Eucharist. Please meet your children by 11:10 am to ensure that we are caring for our faithful storytellers and doorkeepers, enabling them to return to their own family and friends in a timely manner.