The Chicago Temple Children’s Service meets each Sunday from 10 am to 11:30 am, concurrent with the adult service. Children of all ages are welcome. Very young children usually wander the service freely, while elementary and middle school-aged children are encouraged to participate more fully. Teenagers usually limit their participation to the teen group on the first Sunday of each month. On other weeks, older teens might try the stillness and quiet of longer meditations by investigating the adult service.
During most children's services, we follow a simple ceremony that introduces participants to the various practices of Zen Buddhism. These practices include doing a few prostrations, reciting short prayers with a wooden gong (moktak), chanting with beads, or sitting in silent meditation for a few minutes at a time. Other activities include singing songs, striking the bell, doing yoga in animal shapes, and storytelling. These activities take about 45 minutes, with the remaining time offered as free-play. Older children play card games or do art projects, while younger children enjoy the toy collection. When the weather is warm, we go to the local playground or work in the small garden behind the temple. These activities encourage children to develop strong Dharma friendships.
On first Sunday of each month, we offer a Dharma curriculum day. Participants gather in small groups to learn about Buddhism, and practice it, in age-appropriate ways. Elementary and middle school-aged children engage in lessons on the historical Buddha’s life and teachings. Teenagers take part in guided discussions of their own meditative practices and beliefs, while learning more about Buddhist cosmology.
To join the mailing list, ask questions, or make comments, email us at ZBT ChicagoKids@gmail.com.