The children’s class started at 3:00pm, to give the leftover crowd time to finish their conversations and return home. We managed to make copies of the colouring pages earlier, using the Centre’s photocopier, and everything else was pretty much taken care of. After a few prayers by the parents (awesome!), we started by singing not one but two songs—”O God Guide Me” in French, and “His First Counsel Is This”, the song that goes with that particular lesson. Having practiced both songs, we presented the lesson (pure, kindly and radiant hearts) and worked on memorizing the quote of the week, and I put the words on my laptop as a memorization aid. We spent a little more time on memorization since … related to me that one of the mothers was hoping there would be more of it, for their child to practice with (she confirmed this at the end of the class).
Afterwards, we told the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá emptying a lady’s glass and filling it up. We quizzed the kids to make sure they understood, and they passed admirably. We had a short water break, which allowed us to segue into the game—”The Burning Thirst”, in which they used their outstretched arms to help each other drink from cups of water. Everyone loved it, I think. Finally, we ended off with colouring, having to cut things short at 4:30 (thankfully, I remembered to watch the clock this time). It seemed everyone was appreciative and happy with the progression of the class. At one of the parents’ suggestion, I said I would begin to prepare handouts for the parents to use for practice after each children’s class, to help their children learn the lessons at home. Something really tells me this is going to be the best children’s class I’ve ever taught, at least in terms of interaction with parents. I think the big clincher is that we have the strength of several people in our teaching team working with the parents, and that the job of teaching and following up doesn’t all rest on one person—we can support each other in bringing more and more people into our community of interest.
That’s it for now—glad to be able to report on such a wonderfully productive day. We go through crisis and victory, and I feel as though Saturday was a big victory for us. Here’s wishing us all blessings and confirmations from the Blessed Beauty in our continuing efforts to teach and serve.
Sorry I’m late – I’ve been trying to send out reports the day of the children’s class but this time I was lazy I think 😛
Last weekend’s children’s class went off without a hitch; we even got to the Vietnamese Centre a couple minutes after 2 PM and found that … had already come and opened the door, and that … had already arrived with her son. My co-teacher and I taught the first lesson from Book 3 again (on unity), mainly because we realized we hadn’t had time to photocopy the colouring page for the second lesson yet. As well, it gave us the chance to recap our work from the previous week, and to work on memorizing the song (“We Are Drops”) and the quote from that lesson. We played the game described in Lesson 1 together, with everyone taking their turn in the middle once. It’ll definitely be more entertaining once we have more children than adults.
An interesting and relevant observation was made: when the mother asked us if we knew of another song we could sing in French, we went ahead and sang a rendition of “O God, Guide Me” (that is, “O Dieu, Guide Moi”), explaining the French terms along the way. She seemed impressed and showed no objections to the term “God”, as we thought might have arisen from someone of her background. To end off, we sang a melody set to the quote—”So powerful is the light of unity”—again and encouraged each other to remember and practice it. Again, we encouraged both of them to invite friends and acquaintances to the class.
This Saturday’s class (Nov. 14th) was less quiet than the previous one as we got our first child in the class and were able to actually teach the class for the first time. yay! … and I arrived at about five minutes to two, and saw …’s contact walking outside with her “very mature” 4-year-old son, trying to see if the door was open (which it wasn’t). We waited a little while for the centre manager to come open the door, which he eventually did, and we passed the time by chatting and singing songs. It was raining, but thankfully we had umbrellas and a little shelter. … and … came by and shared their umbrellas with us too, and we were able to make a few more introductions.
The class was short and simple, which worked out fine. We started with a prayer for children, sang a song (“We Are Drops”) talked a little about unity. We read the story of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the Christian merchant, which both … and his mom seemed to love. It was a great teaching opportunity for her, who asked questions about the exile of Baha’u’llah in ‘Akka, about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and so on. Since she was present, we tried to explain the story a little more in detail than we might have otherwise. We skipped the game, but spent a long time colouring—all of us.
At the end, we discussed the class a bit and encouraged both the mother and son to invite ppl they know to come and participate in the children’s class. The son was so cute and told us he knows lots of the kids in his kindergarten class, so we told him to tell his friends in class that he goes to a really fun class where he sings songs and listens to stories and talk about unity.
Let’s hope that things keep on going like this, and that we get more and more people into the class in the coming weeks; still, this is a welcome development. Further to our great conversation this morning, we should be able to make even greater strides. Thank God for giving us the opportunity to be part of this!
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.
August 16, 2007: ~1 hour, 4 children, average age 6-7. Outreach class. Our last outdoor outreach class during the two-week pilot phase. With a week and a half’s worth of experience with these children under our belt, we were able to manage the class better than before. We used lots of movement-based activities to accommodate the uppity ones; they all enjoyed learning the “rescue carry” maneuver during the game. The entire class was basically taken straight from Lesson 5 of Ruhi Book 3, including the song (“Look At Me, Follow Me”), the quote, and the story. I think the children liked it, although there was an incident where I had to physically restrain one of the children while telling the story to avoid allowing him to fight with others. I took him aside afterwards, before we played the games, and told him firmly that he was welcome to stay in the class as long as he cooperated in the activities and respected the other children in the class—meaning no more fighting. It seems to have helped, even though we still had to monitor him very closely to curb any further outbursts.
August 15, 2007: ~1 hour, 3 children, average age 8. Outreach class. We began with a new format for this class, to accommodate our group’s high energy level: colouring first to calm the kids down. So far, it seems to work like a charm – it may take a few minutes to convince some of them to colour instead of playing games, but once they’re convinced, they’ll be able to concentrate enough to say prayers together. We also created a new movement-based game for this lesson, called “rose tag”; it’s explained on the lesson page.