obedience (take 2)

Today’s lesson: obedience.

June 17, 2006: 2 hours, 3 children, ages 4, 6, and 7. Another class that went well, especially since I didn’t really take all that much time to prepare. Before the class, we (the teachers) had a little time to chat and determined that we should focus on having each of the children say a prayer, or at least participate in the prayers. Some of our kids don’t really like saying prayers – we haven’t quite figured out why. I’ve been wondering whether it might be related to the atmosphere we create surrounding prayers – perhaps they need some quiet-down time before starting with prayers, or perhaps we just need to be firmer. Anyway, we took advantage of the class’s theme, starting the class by telling the kids we would be talking about obedience today, and that one way we show our obedience (to God) is by praying. One of the kids was more than happy to recite prayers, but the other two (the younger ones – not sure if that’s relevant?) didn’t want to. One of them eventually lip-synched a prayer and we ended the prayers by singing a prayer together, so we left it at that. I’d really appreciate feedback from people who’ve had similar issues surrounding prayers… we’re trying to understand what we might be doing or not doing that is keeping certain children from participating in the prayers (to the point of consistently refusing!)

The other point of revisiting obedience is because this week’s class falls on Father’s Day weekend – you know, obedience to parents and all that. After reading a story about Lua Getsinger and her obedience to ‘Abdu’l-Baha and performing some skits comparing obedience and disobedience, we set to work on Father’s Day cards. These were sheets of paper folded in 4, on which the kids drew and wrote “Happy Father’s Day” type messages. We had planned several other things to work on (such as prize ribbons made by paper-folding) in case we had extra time, but ended up finishing on time without having gone into the extra activities. The activities went well because folding paper is just fun, but I think the kids found it difficult not to have an example already finished to guide them. We’ve come across this before… food for thought! All in all, the class flew by (which is a good sign, I suppose). We seem to have some pretty good luck with this topic – every time we talk about obedience, the kids are more obedient. Maybe we’re too soft the rest of the time! Actually, that’s another thing we’ve discussed – we tend to be soft on discipline and not to push too hard when the kids don’t want to do something. That can be a big problem though, especially when it comes to prayers – God tells us to pray, so we can’t just not do it.

Thoughts about all this are greatly welcomed!!!

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3 thoughts on “obedience (take 2)

  1. Hi I wanted to share that my children’s class ages 5-8 had similar problems with most kids not willing to say prayers or even participate in our group efforts when learning a prayer. I found a white board and started writing the prayer on it. The kids took turns erasing one word and everyone saying the entire prayer together. Each time a word was erased we placed a blank line in it’s place. I got 100% participation when I started the use of the white board.

  2. Getting kids (especially young kids) to participate in prayers: Other than requiring the kids to sit respectfully in a circle, we don’t force them to say a prayer individually unless they want to. If a lot of kids don’t offer prayers we sing a prayer or two together. The most fun ones have movements attached, e.g. “Make firm our steps O Lord…” Everyone likes to get up and stomp to that one! I’ve also seen a teacher make a board with circles on it representing different children’s prayers. Every time a child says a particular prayer, their name is written in the appropriate circle (for a newly leaned prayer) and a sticker was added.

    • Thanks for sharing Jennifer! The board sounds like a great idea to help track who’s learned which prayer by heart.

      It’s been a while since I posted this, and our attitude towards participation in prayers has changed. We sing some prayers together (I’d be interested to hear more about the stomping prayer you mentioned!), and children who wish to recite prayers individually can do so as well. It feels as though this is more in line with the lessons we learned from our Book 3 training; each child advances at their own pace, and shows forth different virtues.

      In our most recent class, one of the key challenges is literacy, since most of the children are learning English as a foreign language. While we do encourage them to learn prayers by heart (to offer them the chance to improve their mastery of the language), we also recognize that it takes time, and that some of them may be too shy to practice in front of everyone. We have seen, though, that with consistent encouragement, change does come about.

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