First Day School:
Third Haven meets needs of our youth through First Day School which meets on Sundays, the First Day. Youth from the toddlers to 18 attend Meeting for Worship for the first fifteen minutes adjourning then to the second floor of the Brick Meeting House which provides rooms for instruction. The FDS programs are directed towards spiritual learning and community development for our youth. The children gather together for a few minutes before separating into two or three age groups for directed programs. First Day School is in session during the regular academic school year, breaking during the summer months. Visitors and guests are welcome and encouraged to join in our FDS programs.
First Day School objectives include:
- Quaker history, practices, and principles.
- Christianity and the Bible.
- Overview of major world religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and others).
- Contemporary world concerns.
- Responsible everyday ethics and behavior.
- Ethical Quaker oriented problem solving:
- "How would you handle..."
- "What would be the right thing to do in this circumstance...?
- Special religious and secular holiday programs. Understanding of and participation in the broader, caring community of Third Haven Monthly Meeting, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
First Day Programs are designed to be engaging, informative and thought provoking. Programs are typically interactive with lots of participation encouraged from the youth. First Day teachers volunteer from the larger meeting and receive a curriculum for the morning program that enables them to bring different life experiences and elements to the classroom. The program includes reading, role-playing, creative activities, journaling and illustrative materials to support spiritual exploration and sharing of classic religious works.
Middle and High School
The older children are provided a separate space and a program that includes themed material. Questions are posed on a topic in keeping with the curriculum and the teachers play the role of facilitator as the youth discover relevancy and make associations to their lives and the world around them. They are often introduced to a topic, or engage in a directed discussion that includes an interactive element or art project to provide for different learning styles and exploration of the concepts.
Younger children include a curriculum of basic religious concepts and Quaker beliefs. Monthly Godly Play, or Faith & Play programs are offered which demonstrate Biblical and Quaker stories told through the use of props designed to capture the young mind's attention. Questions are addressed to the children as the play progresses, and discussed, in depth upon its completion. The Godly Play approach teaches classical Christian concepts in a way that enhances children's authentic experience, contributing to the creative life of the child and the world. Faith & Play uses the same framework as the Godly Plays, but focuses on Quaker history, testimonies, and beliefs.
FDS often finds its way outside when the weather is nice. The Third Haven grounds are filled with teachable moments and places that include fields, trees, and quiet nooks to teach the children about the wider world around them. The outdoor programs are designed to embrace Quaker Beliefs with respect to the environment.
As of February 2012, the Third Haven First Day School program has provided college tuition scholarships for two Bolivian Quaker students. The opportunity to share communication with Quakers in Bolivia will provide a wonderful international experience. We are excited about this new international Quaker connection, and are looking forward to new educational development experiences and opportunities that can come of these new relationships.
First Day School children are encouraged to participate in activities in the community through service. Third Haven Meeting adults strive to serve as role models and mentors for the importance of community service. The act of letting your life speak is demonstrated so that youth have models on which to map their own experiences. Our Members and Attenders participate in food drives for the needy, the prison library program, clothing collections, migrant worker support programs, holiday meal preparations, and providing shelter for the homeless in the winter months, to name a few, in addition to programs of national and international Quaker based programs.
Up to twenty children and youth participate in the FDS program. Attendance can range from a just a few to as many as 16 present on any given First Day. Most of our youth are dependent on their parents attending meeting in order to come to FDS. As many as twenty adults participate in one fashion or the other throughout the year.
In the recent year many of our youth are showing a keen interest in attending a Quaker secondary school. We are excited about this positive development.