When people become parents, their inspiration to teach children’s classes is often increased. Here are a few tips for undertaking the beautiful challenge that is serving as a teacher of Bahá’í children’s classes.
Tip #1: Become Inspired
Teaching children’s classes takes dedication and a lot of preparation. Everyone benefits from the teacher’s inner state of peacefulness and confirmation.
The best way to become inspired and prepare yourself for teaching is to participate in a Ruhi Book 3 (Grade 1,2 and 3 are now available) Study Circle. Study circles will not only prepare you for the practical aspects of running a class, but help you internalize the Bahá’í principles of education, understand the importance of spiritual development, and reflect the spirit of the Faith in your classes.
You may also like to choose a favorite uplifting selection to read and meditate on before you teach and/or prepare each class, such as:
[quote]My highest wish and desire is that ye who are my children may be educated according to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and may receive a Bahá’í training; that ye may each become a lighted candle in the world of humanity, may be devoted to the service of all mankind, may give up your rest and comfort, so that ye may become the cause of the tranquillity of the world of creation. Such is my hope for you and I trust that ye may become the cause of my joy and gladness in the Kingdom of God.[/quote]
(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 141)
Tip #2: Learn from Websites and Blogs
Nowadays there are many websites and blogs dedicated to sharing experiences of teaching Bahá’í children’s classes. Subscribe to these blogs to receive inspiration and get ideas for your own classes (just remember that each class is unique and it is the spirit of the class that is most important!). Staying aware that others are undertaking this important service is also heartening, as the process can feel overwhelming at times.
A few you may like to start with are:
Bahá’í Children’s Class Ideas is a blog by Dan who 1) blogs his lesson plans (using Ruhi Book 3 grade 1-3); 2) puts said lesson plans into practice; 3) blogs the results. Full of learning experiences and enriching stories from his classes in Canada and previously Vietnam.
Refresh Them is a blog by Rachel based in Canada focused on collecting resources for children’s classes. She has posted a large collection of videos with original tunes to the quotations in Ruhi Book 3, grade 2.
Te Whakakotahitanga o te Rawhiti is a blog by Leila based in New Zealand who shares her lessons which contain many unique craft activities that supplement Ruhi children’s classes beautifully.
Eliot Bahá’í Children’s Classes is a blog by Laurel based in Maine (USA) who shares original lesson plans and resources from her weekly children’s class for 3-6 year olds.
Ruhi Resources is a website full of ideas for teaching children’s classes using the Ruhi books, including print out resources, music, and more.
There are also many wonderful videos produced which can spur creativity and resolve, such as the one below by the Bahá’í National Center of the United States.
Tip #3: Utilize Music
Experiment with how you share the prayers, quotations, and songs in your class. Many children enjoy learning the quotations and prayers when they are set to music. For the songs, you may like to incorporate music, instruments, or clapping. It can be helpful to give the children their own copy of the music so they can practice singing at home. Some classes have even decided to write their own tunes to quotations they are learning, and then made their own recordings.
There are several CDs and websites available with music from the Ruhi Books. Some include:
Los Nice Guys – A South Texas blend of Country, Light Rock and Tejano music, written by Larry Magee. Download music for the quotations and prayers from the Ruhi Book 3 children’s class lessons for free.
Mana – Mana is a group from the Pacific Islands. Their CD “Teaching Children” contains 10 songs with quotations and prayers from Ruhi Book 3, to inspire teachers. Order the CD online or check with your local Bahá’í Distribution Service.
David Hunt Music – Download these free songs from Ruhi Book 3 recorded with simple instrumentation, in the hopes that teachers of children’s classes will be able to learn and use the songs. There is also a “karaoke” version of each song for people to sing along.
Tip #4: Ask for Assistance
Many different kinds of challenges can arise from teaching children’s classes, sometimes the ones we never expect. Whether your particular class may be addressing language barriers, behavioral concerns, difficult group dynamics, or children going through family struggles, you may benefit from having a chat with your cluster’s Children’s Class Coordinator about the issue. These coordinators may have seen similar issues and therefore have helpful resources or advice to offer you.
Furthermore, the very task of teaching a children’s class can get very intense! When there are so many things to do, sometimes it seems easier to do it all ourselves so we are in control of everything. However allowing others to perform acts of service not only creates an atmosphere of community but increases capability in others. Here are some ideas for including others in helping you teach your class:
- Have someone else be responsible for snacks. You may like to create a roster or assign the task to a specific person to be responsible for each week.
- Ask a community member (not a parent) to come along to the class to offer an extra set of hands. They can help with snack preparation, clean up, and making sure all the children feel comfortable. An elderly person or a youth may enjoy this role.
- Ask a parent or other assistant to take on one specific portion of the class, such as the story or the game. Send them the details ahead of time so they can prepare, and use the time they are running the class to reflect on how the class had been going up until that point and what you should do next.
Tip #5: Reflect Often
All undertakings benefit from reflection and, many times, our own reflections can be deepened through the experience of sharing them with others. Exploring what others are learning is also very helpful. Attend Cluster Reflection Gatherings whenever you can and, when you cannot, try to receive a briefing of what experiences were shared.
Cluster Institute Coordinators or Children’s Class Coordinators in a cluster may also offer study circle refreshers or teachers encounters. These are wonderful meetings to attend so you can learn from others and also share your own experiences.
(Please note: If you are a children’s class coordinator, we would love for you to add your own wisdom and experiences to our page for coordinators.)
What other tips do you have for Bahá’í children’s class teachers? Please share advice, resources, or experiences in the comments.