Many parents and educators would say “love” is the most important value to demonstrate and to teach the children in our care. Some of us might say "justice." The annual 30 Days of Love campaign from Standing on the Side of Love, which closes next week, offers reflections and actions to help congregations, families, and individuals activate both.
Because the 30 Days of Love campaign primarily speaks to adults and youth, Kathy Smith, Director of Religious Education at the Community UU Church of Plano (TX), created the Thirty Days of Love Activity Calendar for Families. Immensely valuable to religious educators (including parents), the 2014 calendar offers a month’s worth of daily activities, such as:
- Help your child think of someone they know who has exhibited "courageous love" and made a difference in someone's life. Make a certificate and give it to them.
- Have your child draw or color a valentine for workers at a nearby restaurant. Talk about how hard they work. Take it to the restaurant and wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day!
- Visit a mosque, Islamic center, or Muslim community center in your area. Draw a picture of the similarities and differences from where you usually attend.
“Using the calendar is a way to make Standing on the Side of Love concrete for children ages five through twelve,” says Smith. Children in this age range tend to be involved in their own family, school, and local community. The activities engage them to demonstrate love in a variety of ways, together with their caregivers, in contexts that are familiar. Most of the activities can be done in 15 to 30 minutes.
For example, compassionate immigration reform, a long-standing goal of Standing on the Side of Love, appears on Smith's calendar as an activity one can do close to home or, very possibly, at home: Help your child interview someone who has been an immigrant, and hear their story.
Smith's hope? That through these activities, UU children develop a sense of belonging to a national if not a world movement for justice and a faith that calls us to action for love.
Short-term love- and justice-based activities can be meaningful to do with children at any time of year. If you haven't done so already, explore more suggestions in the 2013 Thirty Days of Love Activity Calendar for Families, also provided by Kathy Smith.
Find out more about Standing on the Side of Love and the “Thirty Days” campaign.
Browse family-friendly justice and service project ideas in the new Tapestry of Faith Toolkit book from Skinner House, Creating Justice Together.