July 3, 2010: Trying it yet again! Outreach again this time. A group of us have been doing outreach in Chinatown and met some families all living in one apartment building who showed interest in a children’s class. After meeting a few times and sharing Anna’s presentation with the families (through a significant language barrier), we finally had a class of sorts, with 4-6 boys (I’d say about 5-8 years old). We played a lot more games than usual for us, and they loved it. in fact the class was mostly games, proportion-wise. all the same, we worked on memorizing “O God, guide me” and the quote on truthfulness. The prayers were amazing, as the older children stayed in quiet meditation for a full minute after the prayers were done–I’ve never seen that in all my time doing children’s classes. My co-teacher suggested it might have been due to their Buddhist background… in any case, it was astounding and MOST welcome, and we’ll encourage them to continue doing this for sure. They loved the story about the Boy Who Cried Wolf, and they seemed to grasp all the concepts well. overall, a great summer class after a very uneventful spring season.
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.
Nov. 10, 2007: 1.5 hours, 7 children, average age 7-8. Great class! There is a lot to be said for team efforts. The class started with beautiful prayers—which the children love and vie with each other to say (!)—and continued with songs in which everyone joined in. We had four Haitian children (all related), so one of the songs we sang was “O God, Guide Me” in Haitian Creole, which is fun to sing and has a catchy rhythm. All the kids like singing it. Then we continued on with the lesson, which I had read a few times the night before—I still found I needed the sheet in front of me, though, and I still started to waffle on at some points (caught myself before losing the kids’ attention, though). The children had so much to say about visiting the doctor that we had to moderate the conversation a lot. It was really a topic they got into. So much so, in fact, that while we were working on the activity later on, they were so focused that you could hear a pin drop. Part of that, of course, should fall onto the skill of the teacher who animated that part of the class.
The activity itself worked out quite well; since they seemed to have a natural interest in the topic, it was perfectly natural for them to express their own experiences visiting the doctor’s office. We put together a sheet similar to the one provided in the Alaskan Materials for the Furutan lessons, with a quote at the top, an empty space to draw, and a few lines at the bottom to tell the story. We noticed a few things during the activity: the children shared limited materials together (pencils, markers, etc), which is important for them to develop collaboration skills, and, thanks to having three teachers on hand, we were able to give at least a little time to help each of them bring out their ideas and nurture their own creativity. We focused on getting some of the younger children to practice their handwriting skills, and allowed them to finish by colouring their drawings.