we gathered yesterday for a review class to round out the 2007 year of our children’s class—and, humorously enough, no children showed up! it was a bit of a gamble, since it’s the beginning of the Christmas holidays for most people and they probably had shopping and/or family plans, and we weren’t originally sure whether it would be worth having a class that day. We ended up deciding to have one in the event that some families showed up. oh well—we’ll take it from the top next year!
Today’s lesson: obtaining permission.
Dec. 8, 2007: 1.5 hours, 6 children, average age 7-8. I was skeptical about how this class would turn out, because, to be honest, the topic seemed bizarre at first—how do you explain this Bahá’í law to children? Of course, the curriculum we’re using is quite clear—when we observe this law by asking permission before entering a home or laying hands on someone’s belongings, we are showing them courtesy and respect. So we spoke to the kids about this during the lesson; they seemed to get it, but in retrospect, I think I may have spent too much time talking. we could have integrated some sort of activity to help the children understand, for instance, a short dramatic exercise. that’s for next time, maybe. All in all, this lesson went well. the children found the maze challenging, which was the point behind it—I designed it from scratch to illustrate that we need to have the presence of mind to ask permission before impulsively infringing on someone’s property. in retrospect, this kind of thing applies in many different situations in class—sharing crayons during the colouring portion of class, respecting the property of the Baha’i Centre where we hold our classes, asking for permission before taking snacks out of the cupboards, and so on.
Today’s lesson: truthfulness.
December 5, 2007: 1 hour, 3 children, average age 8. Outreach class. wow. pretty interesting class. discipline went well even though we had some normally feisty kids in the class – things have gone better since we introduced the painting activity, which has given our more tactile/kinesthetic learners a stronger reason to engage themselves in the class. after reading prayers and singing two songs (“Tell the Truth” and “Blessed is the Spot”), we memorized the quotation (“Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues”), which brought us into a discussion about what a “foundation” means. I think we got the idea across well enough—we introduced the idea of the foundation of a house, and how a house would fall over if it didn’t have a good enough foundation; we then compared our souls to those houses, and explained that without truthfulness, our “soul houses” (as it were) would have nothing to stand on, just like a real house. We then launched into the story—which I hammed up a great deal, but which again seemed to have gotten the point across—and, to end off the class, we had about five or ten minutes to paint with the kids. usually we have more time to paint, but I guess I hammed up the story a little too much!
One of the children told me something interesting that made me think; I’ll share with you an abridged version. She said she had gotten into the habit of lying about little things, for example, making a mess in the house—and then blaming said mess on one of her younger sisters out of the fear of punishment. When guilt finally overtook her later on, she would confess the truth to her parents, at which point she would be punished—perhaps worse than if she had told the truth in the first place. We encouraged her to see that as a good reason to tell the truth up front, but instead she cited the inevitable punishments as being “why I don’t tell the truth anymore”. yikes. How do you go about helping a child to learn to love telling the truth when they come out with something like that? (comments welcome…)