Meeting for Worship with Preschoolers

Forty 2 to 5 year olds gather twice daily, once at each morning and afternoon session, at Fairville Friends School (Mendenhall, Pennsylvania). As children enter the school’s newly-built, light-filled Meeting Room, they pick up a carpet square to sit upon. In the beginning of the school year, head of school Barbara Marchese leads Meeting, spending time acclimating children to the way to sit quietly (“criss-cross- applesauce”), what to do with their hands (“Open, shut them . . . place them in your lap”), and to various ways of listening. Led by teachers, Meeting begins with songs and often centers on children’s literature with relevant themes such as family, peace, friendship, and nature. After reading a book, a teacher poses a question for the children to consider during the silence.

“Then we all bring the silence down together,” Barbara says. Everyone raises their hands high, and all bring their hands down to signify the start of worship. All are quiet for about one full minute, “which is sufficiently long for them,” says Barbara. The teacher then breaks silence and asks the children to share their thoughts around the question. Some sharings are directly related to the question and are profound (“Friends are people who care about you”), some are heartfelt (“I love my mommy”), and others simply express what’s on a preschooler’s mind (“I got new shoes!”). “Meeting is a safe place to share thoughts and feelings. It sets the tone for everything here,” says Barbara. Favorite titles from Fairville’s Meeting bookshelf include:

A Little Peace, Barbara Kerley
Somewhere Today, Shelley Moore Thomas
If Peace Is . . . , Jane Baskwill
Because of You, B.G. Hennessy
Each Living Thing, Joanne Ryder
All the Colors of the Earth, Sheila Hamanaka
My Mother Is Mine, Marion Dane Bauer
And Here’s to You!, David Elliott


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