summer note

path of cloudsAs summer arrives here in the Northern hemisphere, the time is ripe for reflection on another season of our neighbourhood children’s class. While we definitely can’t say we’ve achieved some of our most cherished goals—like establishing new classes to accommodate cousins and friends with different schedules—we’ve made other kinds of progress in our path of service. Our core participants, all cousins and siblings, are well engaged with the class and seem to be scaling the language barrier with more confidence and ease than before. Although our vocabulary builders made an impact in that respect, two other decisions we made seem to have made more of a difference: choosing shorter, simpler quotes to account for the children’s reading level, and increasing the number of times we repeat each lesson (from two times in a row to three or four). Focusing on getting the children to practice prayers inside and outside class has also made a big difference in the children’s engagement. We’re starting to think of doing something like the prayer books we’ve made in the past, so that the children would have something that they could take home to help them study their prayers on their own—not a bad idea to help kick off a new school year in September.

We’ve worked a lot on our functioning as a neighbourhood teaching team this season, too: there’s a core of three of us passing the duties of junior youth animator and children’s class teacher back and forth between us, accommodating vacations and other scheduled absences without sacrificing the regularity of the class. The result is that we’ve barely missed a class in the past six months, except that one time when we all ended up sick on the same weekend. That’s a pretty good record for a neighbourhood children’s class, and it’s all because we have a dedicated teaching team. Acting together as a team really makes us stronger than we could be on our own, and keeps us from feeling too much discouragement as we persevere along our path of service—as I sometimes did when I was teaching alone.

Now that it’s summertime, we’re expecting to have more time to regroup and reflect on next steps. One of those steps will probably be to expand the team, since at least one of us (my wife) will be giving birth to a baby boy in the fall and will probably be less available. Engaging neighbourhood youth, including some of the older siblings and cousins of the children in our class, will be a priority, especially considering the focus on youth in the latest guidance from the Universal House of Justice. We’ve already asked one youth to help out with activities during the summer and floated the idea to others; beyond that, there are many more eager youth out there who we need to follow up with. Lots of home visits will be in order, as we reconnect with families who’ve dropped off our so-called radar and renew the ties of friendship and fellowship with them. As always, watch this space!

Speaking of watching this space, you may have noticed a change in the layout and design of our website; welcome to the long awaited “version 2.0”! If you’re reading this via email, then please take a moment to check out the new look and let us know what you think in the comments. Our hope is that it’ll be easier for you to find what you’re looking for, whether it be lesson plans, activities, downloadables or insights and experience.

long-awaited renewal

Hello everyone! In case you didn’t read it on our Facebook page, Baha’i children’s class ideas has some exciting news to share!

It’s been a long time coming—it feels like we’ve been talking about it forever—but it looks as though our website will be ready for a long-awaited design update very soon! Our target date is Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013. Besides a new look and feel, we’ll be improving the site’s organization to make it easier to find lesson plans, activities, tips and experience, adding new content, making the site mobile-friendly, and more! Pay us a visit next week and check it out for yourself!

short pause for feedback

Readers of this blog will be pleased to know that not only am I still alive, but I have a number of things lined up for posting in the next little while. I’ve had to take some time away from blogging for the past few months due to personal busymaking, including a trip back to Vietnam to visit family. But fear not! More content is on the way, including stories about our weekly children’s class in Ottawa, anecdotes about building up the core activities in Vietnam, posts about the rise in Baha’i institutional capacity, and even some videos.

How about you? What would you like to see more of on baha’i children’s class ideas? I’m currently considering opening up the format of this blog a little, to include more blog-like posts and articles about what it takes to run a children’s class, anecdotes about how different Baha’i communities are implementing children’s classes, and ideas from elsewhere on the internet. Leave a comment with your suggestions!

children's camp

Photo: Martin Braithwaite

ohoho back

just a little note to let you all know that the new year of children’s classes has begun here, so I’ll be posting reflections again after an unjustly long hiatus. as always, go nuts with leaving comments! I’d really love to see as many people posting their thoughts as possible, so that we can all learn from each other. one interesting feature this year will be that I’ll be going over the curriculum we used a few years ago—so you’ll see a lot of old lessons popping up with new reflections added to them. hopefully this will help me (and you) better reflect on how children’s classes change as the children get older.  Since most of the lessons are already somewhere on this blog, I’ll be bumping them up in advance so that people can have a chance to look at them and leave comments—for instance, this week’s class was on obedience to parents (I’ve added some wrap-up comments to it already), and next week’s class is on kindness to animals, which you’ll find below. if you’re up to follow the whole curriculum as it happens, you may also want to check the class calendar in the sidebar, which will give you a glimpse of what’s coming for us in the next few weeks—surprise me by looking ahead and leaving comments on upcoming lessons!