Asked Questions about Children and Worship
at Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting
I understand that you want children to sit
in meeting for worship for the first 15 minutes,
but what if my child can’t sit still for
All children are invited to meeting for worship
for the first 15 minutes, and we encourage parents
to lead their children to join us.
We know that silence and stillness are difficult
for children, and we are very tolerant of age-appropriate
restlessness and noises.
We encourage children to learn to be as still and
quiet as possible. As children get older, we remind
them that younger children are less able to be still
and silent, and we ask that they not copy or entice
inappropriate behavior from younger children.
There is also a written paper offering ideas that
children may try out to experience meeting for worship,
including meditation, prayer, holding in The Light
both people and problems, etc.
May my child bring a toy into meeting for
Soft, quiet toys are often age-appropriate, and
younger children may bring a favorite toy from home
or take one from the box outside of the meeting room.
In selecting a toy to bring from home, we ask that
you be mindful of the Quaker Peace Testimony and
not allow a child to bring any toy relating to violence
(such as toy guns or soldiers).
What will my child experience during meeting
If you are not already familiar with Quaker unprogrammed
worship, we would encourage you to look at some of
the literature that is available in the gathering
room, or to ask a member of the meeting.
There are not often spoken messages while children
are in meeting, but children should be prepared to
listen respectfully if an adult (or another child—thoughtful
spoken ministry is welcomed from children as much
as from adults) should choose to speak. (Children
are often surprised when someone is “allowed” to “talk” in
Please be sure your child knows that it is not
appropriate to enter or leave the meeting room while
someone is speaking, nor to talk or make excessive
noise during someone else’s message.
What if we arrive for meeting just after
If you arrive between 10:30 and 10:45, you may
sit in the gathering room, just outside the meeting
room. During meeting for worship, the gathering room
is a worshipful place, too, so our conduct there
is consistent with our conduct in the meeting room.
By its very nature, however, there will be people
walking in and out of the gathering room during that
15 minute period.
What happens after the rise of meeting
and after First Day School ends?
All children are expected to share in cleaning
up and putting the room back in order after First
Day School, and should not expect teachers to do
all the cleanup. If you see that books, toys, or
supplies are left out, please help your child put
On the second and third First Days (as well as
others from time to time) tables are set up in the
First Day School room, and a light meal or other
refreshments are served before activities that follow
the rise of meeting. You are welcome to stay for
any activities and, if you wish to stay, you are
welcome to share our meal, but we ask that children
be discouraged from helping themselves to food before
adults have begun to serve.
Please be mindful that the First Day School rooms
are used by others during the week. Please check
that the rooms are straightened up (again) if your
child plays in them during any meeting activity.
How will I know when First Day School is
canceled due to weather?
If the weather is harsh (i.e. snow, ice, flooding),
making it dangerous for children and teachers to
come to meeting, please assume that there will be
no First Day School or child care that morning.
May I stay in First Day School with my
Parents are encouraged to attend meeting for worship
and we ask that you not remain in the First Day School
room during the children’s time for worship.
If you must stay with your child for a few minutes
to get the child acclimated, we will understand,
but please respect the children’s time of worship
and leave your child with the assigned teachers.
If you have specific concerns about your child, please
discuss them with a member of the Religious Education
If my child is mature (or immature) for
her age, may she join an older (or younger) First
Day School group?
Children in First Day School should expect to sit
with and participate in the appropriate age/grade
class. However, we are flexible and can make exceptions
if there are reasons for the exception and the exception
will not cause disruptions. We hope that children
and parents will be also flexible in helping us to
make choices that will enrich (and not diminish)
the First Day School experiences of all children.
How can I learn more about Quaker worship
and Quaker testimonies?
There are a variety of brochures, pamphlets, and
books in the gathering room, outside the meeting
room, that can be taken (or borrowed) for those wishing
to know more about Quaker faith and practice. You
may also ask any member or regular attender for information
It must be remembered that Quakers do not have
a creed, and Quakers often disagree on matters of
individual faith. A book titled Faith and Practice
represents some areas in which there is general agreement
within the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (of which
Chestnut Hill Monthly Meeting is a part), but readers
should be prepared to find differing points of view
within Quaker literature.
May I make a suggestion?
If you have any ideas or concerns about First Day
School, please contact a member of the Religious
Education Committee. The committee (and the meeting
as a whole) welcomes your feedback.
Who is on the Religious Education Committee?
The names of the members of the committee are listed
with the membership of other committees at the back
of the meeting directory, copies of which can be
obtained in the meetinghouse office. Most members
and attenders know the members of the committee and
will help you find one (or help you find someone
who does know), so don’t be afraid to ask.