DharmaGarden – Our Children’s Programs
Through stories and songs, art projects and games, discussions and ritual, children in our DharmaGarden are offered opportunities to deepen their understanding of themselves, the teachings of Buddhism and the practice of the Dharma in their daily lives. We strive to navigate a Middle Way between a sense of the sacred, mysterious, and ceremonial, and the light-hearted songs-and-games side of life. The children learn to use tools to tackle the deeper questions, and have a good time doing it.
We do not require that either the family or the child identify as Buddhist, much less as a Soto Zen Buddhist. Some of the Dharma School students do not have an affiliation with our Center outside of Dharma School. Acknowledging the validity of the spiritual path that their parents are on is an important part of supporting these children. We do ask that children have parental consent, that they are interested in Buddhism, and are willing to participate fully. Parents who are interested in Buddhism are encouraged to join in the adult program, which is held at the same time in another building.
DharmaGarden consists of several elements:
DharmaSchool is for children and young people ages 3-18 who are interested in Buddhism or who come from Buddhist homes. It meets roughly every other Sunday from September to June. Participants are divided into six groups, roughly organized by age/grade: Lotus, Daisy, Dogwood, Willow, Spruce and Doug Fir.
In addition to the programs listed above, other DharmaGarden activities include picnics and family days; participation in sangha activities; performances for the sangha; service projects; and occasional overnights for the Spruce and Doug Fir groups.
Parent involvement is an important part of Dharma School. We ask parents to be responsible for their children arriving on time and attending regularly. Parents are needed to help find supplies, help with projects, serve as buddies for new families, keep up the database, play guitar during singing times, act as a parent contact for interested families, assist teachers as needed and lend overall support to the school.