Radiant Hearts is an online multimedia program for families to learn Baha’i prayers, memorize short quotations from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and study spiritual qualities together. It was not specifically created to be a Baha’i Preschool Class program however the lessons in Radiant Hearts contain all the elements of a typical Baha’i Preschool Class and therefore can easily be used for this purpose.
If you have a three or four year old, and would like to share spiritual themes with your child’s friends and their families, Radiant Hearts can be one resource to help do this. For a review of what a Baha’i Preschool Class using Radiant Hearts might look like, download our overview document.
Download the Baha’i Preschool Class Overview.
This page will share some helpful ideas and resources for teaching Baha’i Preschool Classes. Not all ideas can or should be implemented in a class. It may be wise to select a few which you think may work to help your class, try them for a while, and assess whether they are working. If they work, stick to them, and if you would like to change a few things you can always come back to this page for more ideas.
Planning a class
Participating in a Ruhi Book 3 Study Circle is the best way to prepare for teaching a Baha’i Children’s Class, regardless of the age of the children you will be teaching. Ruhi Book 3 not only contains the lessons for children age five and above (which you will want to use when your children become of age) but is also “designed to develop the capabilities needed to conduct children’s classes” including study about the basic principles of Baha’i education.
As mentioned, Radiant Hearts was originally created for use in-home and therefore contains no training materials for teachers of children’s classes. You will greatly benefit from the learning and experience you gather from Ruhi Book 3 and the spiritual insights you gain will also help you to teach and relate to your own child(ren) at home. For more information on Ruhi Book 3 check out this comprehensive website and talk to your cluster’s Study Circle Coodinator.
If you are looking for a way to organize your preschool classes a bit more, or are thinking about what you need to do before you start a class, these worksheets may help.
Download a Baha’i Preschool Class Preparation sheet.
Download a Baha’i Preschool Class Enrollment Form.
Setting your expectations
- Three and four year olds cannot be expected to sit quietly for a full class like a five or six year old would. Therefore the classes should be tailored to their developmental stages and interests. If the children are not behaving like you would expect, consider adding a few more age-appropriate activities (such as songs that require movement) or cutting down the time of the formal class so it is only 15 minutes. As the children grow, you can add more elements.
- Teaching a Baha’i Preschool Class is a great way to introduce children to Baha’i prayers and quotations, and to learn about spiritual qualities, but it must be done in a positive, uplifting, and appropriate atmosphere. It is best to ensure they have a good experience with Baha’i Children’s Classes from the very start, so setting realistic expectations and planning ahead of time for mishaps is best.
- Set ground rules from the beginning of what behavior is expected during class time. Read about and/or download our “3 Rules for Unity” poster on this post.
Setting the environment
- Toys can be distracting so consider removing the toys out of the room you will have class in, before the class begins. After class, toys can be brought back in to play.
- Sometimes children may wish to go into the room where the toys have been stored to play if they arrive before class begins. This way it’s easy to leave the “toy room” and shut the door when class is about to start.
Establishing a routine
- Sing a particular song to start class every time (and call the children together to sit down for prayers). Possibilities are: Julie Iraninejad’s “Allah’u’abha” song, a “Days of the week” song or a “Welcome” song.
- You may like to start a tradition like ringing a bell when it’s time to start, or always singing a song to bring everyone together in a circle in order to begin the class once everyone arrives.
- To signify the start and finish of the class, take out a few sarongs or picnic blankets. The children can help lay them out like a mat for everyone to sit on before the class starts. Put them away at the end of the class.
Organizing the materials
- Give each child a folder or box to keep their crafts in
- Have a “class mailbox” which you bring out each lesson to introduce each element (keep the storybook, activity props, instruments inside)
- Think about making a sign or board that has the virtue you are learning about posted up, and class the routine. This will keep you on track while teaching and also let other parents know what to expect, too.
- Consider using the Radiant Hearts Lesson Posters to help guide you through the class, and for parents to be able to join in the songs.
- Quotations, prayers, and other information can be shared via the Baha’i Preschool Class Posters, available on each Online Lesson.
- Keep class short (remember quality not quantity), and it’s important to feel okay that sometimes things will get off topic. General time frame for a class might be: 5 minutes for prayers, 5 minutes for the quotation, 5 minutes for talking about virtue, 5 minutes for telling the story, 5 minutes for singing, 10-15 minutes for the activity. If the activity is something like art, young children may have the choice to participate in the activity or to start free play immediately. No one has to participate in something they aren’t interested in (or developmentally ready for!). The class above would be no longer than 30 minutes.
- Light a candle during prayers
- Sit in a circle on cushions (“go get your pillow and bring to the circle for prayers!”)
- Let each child choose a prayer book/prayer card to hold during prayers (parents can help them read a prayer)
- Start prayer time with a short song the kids will eventually learn to sing along to (prayer like “O God Guide me” or “Educate these children” as a tradition to begin the class) and let children recite prayers around the circle after the song
- Use hand puppets, homemade stick puppets, or finger puppets
- Use a felt board to tell the story
- Create a story in class using props/characters the children come up with
- Ask the children to tell a story of the spiritual quality that they have seen in action
- Offer instruments or rhythm sticks (plain wooden sticks) during the songs
- Dance to music with rhythm scarves or rhythm sticks (stick with ribbon tied to the end)
- Sing additional preschool songs and use props (stuffed animals, puppets of different kinds)
- Consider choosing varying activities to meet the needs of different students. Rotate arts with more active games, or choose several for each week.
- Even if the children are engaging in free play, reinforce the virtues you are learning about through encouraging appropriate behavior and offering ideas of how to practice the virtue learned in the lesson.
Involvement of other parents
If you have more than a couple young children (under three years old), you are bound to have one or two toddlers off track most of the time, especially at the beginning when you are creating a routine. That’s okay! Here’s some ideas that may help:
- Ask a parent to take on a part of the class they are especially talented at, such as telling a story or leading a craft activity
- Keep on with the class even if one or two children are distracted, and let the parents bring them back together when needed (example: a child wanders off quietly)
- Asking the child a question related to what you are doing at the time (ie “What song would you like to sing next?”) to help them return to the class
- A parent not belonging to the distracted child may sometimes try to guide a child back to the class (children sometimes listen to other parents in a different way than their own). This strategy may develop naturally over time, once the parents feel comfortable together and able to help to discipline each other’s kids. This strategy can be discussed with other parents if you want to speed the process of getting other parents involved in keeping the kids’ attention during class.
- Other parents might ask a child (who is getting sidetracked) a question, and the child’s mom might reinforce this by saying “so-and-so is asking you…” to help them get on track again
Some classes like to have a special ceremony at the end of a “term” (which usually coincides with the local school term) or at the end of the year (either in December or at Naw Ruz) to celebrate the kids’ achievements in class and to allow them an opportunity to share what they have learned.
As part of a graduation ceremony or other special occasion (like fare welling a teacher), a children’s class might like to host a program for their parents and friends. Here are some ideas of elements to include in such a program:
- Beginning the program with devotions on one of the virtues they have learned about.
- Singing songs they learned in the class
- Acting out or narrating a story they learned in the class
- Presenting a small gift and/or certificate
- Having art projects from the class displayed on a table for all to see
- Bringing homemade treats to serve to their parents and friends
- Each child standing up and sharing a favorite memory from the class or something they learned
Download a Certificate of Excellence.
Beyond the classroom
- Go on a field trip, such as to a soup kitchen or animal shelter
- Ask the children to recite prayers, quotations, stories, or songs at other events such as Devotional Gatherings, Feast or Holy Day celebrations
- Gather the parents in the class for a “child-free” event such as a Devotional, dinner, or study circle together. Ask some Ruhi Book 3 graduates to offer childcare during this time.
When children turn 5 and above
- Because the Radiant Hearts materials are very similar in format to the Ruhi Book 1 Children’s Class materials, it will be very easy to transition to the Ruhi curriculum when the children get to the age of five.
To visit EMTG’s main page on Baha’i Children’s Classes for children under five years old click here.
You may also find our Baha’i Playgroups page useful, in thinking about how to run the class and other considerations.
What experiences you have had and learnings you have gained from teaching Baha’i Preschool Classes? Please share in the comment section below!