What is the relationship of children to the larger RCF community?
We delight in welcoming infants and children to Meeting and watching them grow to maturity. We offer support and encouragement for their spiritual and personal growth. We include them in Meeting for Worship and offer First Day instruction to help them understand Quakerism at their level. We have special Meeting for Worship to honor the naming of new babies and also at the time of graduation from high school. Once a year, in May, we gift children in Meeting with a book for their personal library. In the wider Quaker community, the Green Pastures Quarterly Meeting has annual family events and has children’s activities at each Quarterly Meeting. Children are also an integral part of the Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, which offers an excellent youth program at its annual sessions. At the national level, there are organizations of Young Friends and Young Adult Friends.
If my children come to Meeting for Worship with me, what will happen?
Your children will attend First Day classes from 10:15 to about 11:15. The greeter at the door of the Meeting House will help you find your child’s group in the social hall or classroom. You may attend First Day with them if you like or go on to worship.
The children will join worship between 11:15 and 11:30. This is the period of Meeting when joys, sorrows or concerns may be shared. At the rise [end] of Meeting, children will share what they did in class. After announcements, we will all move to our social time and have snacks in a different area. Children can join us and play.
What if my child needs to be with me?
The caregivers will be sure to let you know if your child needs you. Sometimes parents leave worship to be with their child; sometimes children are quietly in worship with a parent; and sometimes another adult is happy to leave worship to spend some time with a baby or child.
What about nursing babies?
We welcome nursing mothers and babies in worship.
How can my children get to know the other children of RCF?
We hope they will have an opportunity to develop friendships in their First Day classes and to play together during the social hour after Meeting. We also have activities throughout the year, such as an Easter Egg Hunt, a sledding party in the winter, and a visit to a corn maze in the fall, which give all of us opportunities to have fun and get to know each other.
What if there are no children the age of mine?
Our First Day classes are organized groups from infants to high school. We try to divide our children into sensibly sized age and interest groups, and groups can change depending on who is attending regularly. The Religious Education Committee will help you and your child find an appropriate group. There are additional opportunities to get to know children of all ages at gatherings of Quarterly and Yearly Meeting, and at Friends General Conference Gathering.
What is expected of children? How can I prepare them?
Children six and older usually join worship for 15 minutes at the end of Meeting. We hope they can sit quietly during that time. Some parents bring toys or books so they have something to do. Talking with them before they enter Meeting and explaining that we will be sitting in worship quietly will help them understand our expectations. If they are uncomfortable being silent, they are welcome to wait in the nursery until Meeting rises [ends].
Are there formal or informal rules regarding children?
Children are encouraged to be kind and inclusive and are helped to play and resolve conflicts in peaceful ways. For example, the children had a Meeting for Business to determine where running is and is not allowed during the social time. For safety reasons, we ask that children do not come into the kitchen. Because Quakers traditionally do not emphasize the use of formal titles, adults and children call each other by their first names.
What if my child breaks a rule or upsets someone?
Generally, people will ask you to address this with your child, though friendly reminders about clearly agreed-upon rules can come from any adult.
What if my child needs an accommodation, or I have a concern about First Day classes?
Feel free to talk to the teacher or to members of the Religious Education Committee. They will introduce you to the people teaching your child’s class so you can talk together. The Religious Education Committee can also help plan a way to share information with the Meeting as a whole if your child needs collective support or understanding. If it is just first time jitters, you could go to class at first with your child to meet the teacher and other children. Feel free to get to know the teachers so you can support each other.
Who teaches First Day classes?
Adults in the Meeting volunteer to teach the older First Day classes each September through May. The teachers work together with the Religious Education Committee to plan instruction. During June through August all the older children do activities together while adults worship. These activities are led by volunteers from the Meeting. The Meeting pays high school or college students to provide consistent year-round care for infants in the nursery during silent worship.
What do they teach?
We try to offer age appropriate instruction about Quaker history, Quaker testimonies, and Bible stories, as well as information about other spiritual paths, such as Native American traditions, Judaism, and Islam.
How can I get to know other parents?
Feel free to introduce yourself to other parents. A great way to begin is to join someone at a table during social time. In the summer, you can sign up to assist another person with the children’s activities, which happen while adults worship. The Hospitality Committee sometimes organizes park gatherings for parents and children, and these gatherings are announced at Meeting and in the newsletter.