Teaching the children... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-11-2002, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I know my status here is minority , but I just want to klatsch a little about religious ed. See, I am teaching a group of 7-9 year olds in our local Muslim community's ALL-NEW (!!!) summer school program.
When I belonged to the RC Church, I taught kids in more or less the same age group. I enjoy spending the time with these young kids--they are honest, not out to impress anyone, and they seem to still have that pure God-love we strive for as adults.
Anyway, we try to keep it light and fun while covering basics of life as a Muslim. We are also trying to foster friendships among these kids (they are spread out among many towns and schools), and help them make positive associations with the mosque. The school-year weekend school does more heavy stuff--a lot more reading, Arabic language, etc.
Today, we're talking about how Muslims pray. We'll read some, and then illustrate a page with the postures we use to pray, and then we'll pray together (as always).
Regardless of your particular faith, what would you like your children to get from a religious ed summer program? How would you like to see classes run?
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#2 of 5 Old 07-12-2002, 12:16 AM
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I have to admit that I don't know the slightest about Islamic worship except a few doctrinal facts, but is there any kind of acceptable "fun" worship music geared toward children? I know that my kids, although very young, really respond to our children's music from church, and I enjoyed singing the songs as I grew up. I also have noticed even as a two or three year old, my daughter actually gets doctrinal concepts from the words in the songs! So is there an aspect of music, chant, etc. that would be fun-ish without crossing the "line" of impropriety?

I've also noticed that kids are smarter than we give them credit for. I really appreciated my dad's time and effort in teaching me really "meaty" stuff (doctrine), but if you're trying to keep it lighter, perhaps that's less appropriate. But I was always fascinated by those discussions, even from about age eight or nine (why do we believe what we believe, etc.).

Good for you for supporting your faith community like this!
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#3 of 5 Old 07-12-2002, 01:03 AM
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I used to teach Hebrew School way back when, lol. I found kids really want something hands on and fun. Something that will keep them busy. They don't want to just sit still and listen to someone talk. So I would try to use crafts or music or a play to convey the message they are learning. I taught a class on Kosher Cooking that was very popular. But they wanted to actually make stuff, not just read a recipe or hear about the laws of Kashrut.
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#4 of 5 Old 07-12-2002, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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This week, for example, we talked a little first about what they knew themselves already (I'm really big on doing this, since I think it "evens it up" between student and teacher"). Then, we discussed how we prepare our bodies, minds, and space for prayer.
Then we got into the prayer itself, some of the words we use in every prayer and what they mean, and the postures we use. After this, the kids made their own illustrations for the different parts of the prayer--standing, bowing, sitting, prostrating, etc. They really seemed to enjoy this. We rounded out the unit by watching a kids' video on prayer.
I also try to bring a little Arabic writing into each class. I know a lot of adult Muslims are intimidated by it, but I want the kids to see that they can write a couple of words at a time, and this helps them to learn the alphabet and sounding out words--and we hope this will lead them to be able to read Qur'an someday!
Next week, we'll talk about the mosque itself, fasting and charity.
There are some really good kids CDs out there...but I don't have any yet, and our mosque community is rather old school (read: old country). In fact, the former Cat Stevens himself now makes Islamic music for kids. There's another fellow from Canada, too, whose songs are wonderful.
I guess I like to focus on being/doing good in an Islamic context, rather than teaching in a comparative context. When I taught religious ed back in the Catholic Church, I remember omitting entire units from the curriculum because I found them offensive and inappropriate for young children--very intolerant.
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#5 of 5 Old 07-12-2002, 01:26 PM
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... by UmmNuh ...
I guess I like to focus on being/doing good in an Islamic context, rather than teaching in a comparative context.
Great point. At this age, particularly in this country, kids need to get a solid foundation on who they are, not who other people are. They'll pick that up later, when they can absorb the differences better. And youthful pride of people goes a long way to strengthening pride of self ... which can be especially tough for children who are in a minority, whether a minority of belief or of race.

Lay it on thick, UmmNuh ... it's good for the families, too.

Every time my children question something we do in our home as Jews or ask for an explanation, it forces me to really look into myself and my feelings about it. And every time they sing a song they learned about a holiday or a piece of our history, it brings up very strong emotions. And every time they say a blessing and are so in the moment and mindful when they say it, it reminds me of my need to be in the moment and work on my mindfulness.

Lay it on thick.

- Amy
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