Zen Kids and Teens

Buddhist Program for Children

The mission of our youth programs is to help children and teenagers develop self-awareness, kindness, and a sense of interconnectedness with all beings and our world. We do this through the practice of meditation, the study of age-appropriate Buddhist teachings and liturgy, as well as art, music, games, and outdoor activities. The schedule also includes a short period of work practice called caretaking, and time for either storytelling or the study of a text related to our monthly theme. Past themes have included the Buddha’s life, the six senses, kindness, silence, giving, and community, among many others. Zen teens spend time studying and discussing more overt Buddhist teachings like the Four Noble Truths and the six paramitas, and their relevance for the issues that they may be encountering in their lives: bullying, the use of social media, relationships and sexuality.

At Zen Mountain Monastery

Once a year, members from all three programs celebrate Buddha’s Birthday with a special ceremony and a performance for the sangha. In the summer we hold weekend retreats for families, and in the winter our annual Dana Dinner—a holiday celebration for our neighbors and those who might not otherwise have a holiday meal.

Zen Kids (open to 3 to 9-year-olds) and Zen Tweens (9 to 13-year-olds) meets generally on the first Sunday of every month from 9 am to 12 pm (Families are welcome to stay for our Monastery’s community lunch). Zen Teens (14 to 18-year-olds) meets on the first Saturday of the month from 1 to 4 pm. Parents have a choice of attending the Zen Kids program, or, if their kids are at least 6 years old and are comfortable on their own, they can choose to do the Monastery’s adult Sunday program instead. Please note that the Zen Tweens and Teens programs happen without the presence of parents.

Our staff is made up of monastics and lay practitioners with a deep commitment to creating a space in which children and teens can skillfully relate to one another, cultivate a strong and grounded sense of self, and discover for themselves one of Buddhism’s primary teachings—that each one of us is perfect and complete just as we are.

For more information on Zen Kids please contact Zuisei at zuisei@dharma.net. For information on Zen Tweens, contact Kyusan at zentweens@dharma.net. And for information on Zen Teens, contact Kien at zenteens@dharma.net.

We welcome families regardless of class, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender expression. The only requisite is an interest in the Buddhist teachings and their application in daily life.

2018 ZMM Calendar

Zen Kids/Tweens

January 7
February 4
March 11
April 8
May 6 (Buddha’s Birthday Celebration)
June 3
July 1
August 10-12 (Zen Kids Summer Camp and
Zen and the Art of Parenting)
September 9
October 7
November 4
December 14-16 (Dana Dinner)     

Zen Teens

January 6
February 3
March 10
April 7
May 5
June 2
June 30

September 22October 6
November 3
December 14-16 (Dana Dinner) 

2018 ZCNYC Calendar

Zen Kids

September 29
October 27
November 17


Zen Kids is our Buddhist-themed family program that includes parent / guardian participation.

The program begins promptly at 2pm with a welcome circle in which participants introduce themselves and sing a welcome song together. This is followed by a brief period of zazen (about 5 minutes of sitting meditation) and a few minutes of kinhin (walking meditation with a fun game element). Next, we engage in a hands-on activity, through which participants explore the month’s theme. Activities have included visual art projects, yoga, skits, collecting trash, planting flowers, and so on; themes have included general topics like kind speech and our connection with the natural world, and we’ve also looked at more specifically Buddhist subjects like the Buddha’s life and the Eightfold Path. The program concludes at 4:30 after a snack, care-taking of the spaces we have used, and a closing circle.

Before attending the Temple Zen Kids program we do ask that parents / guardians attend beginning instruction at the Temple or Monastery. For information, please feel free to contact Seijo Nevins.

2018 dates for the Zen Center of New York City’s Zen Kids Program (through the summer) are as follows: May 25th, June 23rd, and July 28th.