The beauty of Bahá’í children’s classes is that they’re so simple in their essence. Given a copy of Book 3 of the Ruhi curriculum and a photocopier, a teacher could start a class with a few hours of preparation—whether in a faraway village, a suburban home, a city apartment block, or the middle of the desert. Supporting that simplicity, though, are a whole host of different skills, habits and routines we can develop to make classes run smoothly, foremost of which are skills of planning and organization.
The beginning and end of class should be clear and orderly. Opening and closing the class with prayers creates a spiritual atmosphere.
Establish a routine in the class, so that the children come to expect each activity in turn. As an example, take the lessons of the Ruhi Institute’s curriculum, which are arranged in a predictable fashion: Class opens with prayers, then memorization, then songs, then games, then colouring, before closing with reflection and prayer. You could write down the class agenda on a sheet of bristol board and hang it somewhere in the classroom (next to the class rules) to help reinforce this routine. The more familiar it becomes, the more smoothly the class should go.
Some flexibility can be built into the routine—for example, spending more or less time on different activities based on the circumstances. All the same, try to resist the temptation to omit activities on the fly or otherwise stray from the lesson plan, unless circumstances make it impossible to continue as planned.
Adequate planning before every class goes a long way in ensuring a well-delivered, smoothly-running class. When a teacher gets to know the lesson plan well and arranges all the required materials before class, it’s much easier to present the lesson fluidly and with confidence. Complex crafts and projects, especially, should be planned and tested in advance. Planning a few “extra” activities is also a great idea, to bridge any unforeseen gaps.
Try to keep the classroom free from distractions. Holding the class in a noisy environment, for example, or in a room with a large-screen television or an easily accessible computer, may make it more difficult for children to concentrate. If the class is hosted by the family of one of the children, you can secure their help in creating the ideal atmosphere.
If possible, organize the classroom into stations, or areas: a quiet area for prayers, a comfortable sitting space for storytelling, a large open space for games, a corner with supplies for arts and crafts. Moving from one area to the next can help the children shift their focus from one activity to the next. This is especially appropriate for younger children, but can be useful for all ages.