lesson planning

As teachers of Baha’i children’s classes, we’re fortunate to have a number of very strong, organically developed and field-tested curricula to choose from when planning for a class. A diverse range of creative materials and lessons are available, too, having been developed independently by Baha’is around the world for Baha’i schools or their own neighbourhood classes. Some of these can stand very well on their own, and some of them can be augmented with different games, artistic activities, crafts, service projects, and the like. No matter what source (or sources) we use for our lessons, the ability to plan and adapt our lessons each week is an essential skill that is most often learned by doing. The more practice we get, the easier and more natural it becomes.

We can’t plan for everything. There’ll be days when one of the children decides on a whim to stuff his pants with squeaky toy dinosaurs, or bring his beloved pet hamster. It’s hard to anticipate family emergencies that lead to no-shows, or to a change of venue. But in general, we’ve learned that adequate lesson planning and organization make a class go much more smoothly and promote good discipline.

how to plan

  • Maintain a portfolio of activities to help you in planning your lessons. It can include drawings to colour, pencilwork activities to print out, ideas for games, songs, stories, arts, crafts and drama, and so on. Your portfolio can be paper-based or electronic, according to your preference, and can include anything you think you might want to try in your classroom. Pinterest is especially good for this–be sure to follow our pinboards!
  • Keep a class calendar going to help you keep track of your lessons. Plan lessons well in advance—at least a month. Review your lesson plan the night before the class is scheduled to ensure it’s fresh in your mind.
  • Complex activities—including most crafts and special artistic activities—should always be planned and tested at least a few days in advance. Nothing can bring the momentum of a class to a grinding halt like including an activity in the agenda and realizing you don’t know how to do it.

what to plan

  • Always try to over-plan. It’s better to plan too many things and be unable to get to them all than to under-plan and be left with empty time to fill. You never know when a lesson might go faster than expected, or one of the activities might not work, or a parent might not show up on time to pick up his or her children. The same goes when unexpected distractions arise, and you need a contingency plan to maintain the children’s focus no matter what distractions might arise. Always have a few simple activities ready as “extras”—songs, stories, or games—whether to fill time or to bridge unforeseen gaps.
  • Lessons must be appropriate to the capacities of the children in a class. Disruptions can arise when children feel a lesson is too basic, too advanced, or otherwise poorly suited to their learning style. Younger children may feel overwhelmed when too much is asked of them; older children might feel bored if they are not being engaged enough. Understanding each child’s strengths and capacities is crucial to addressing problems when they occur. Rather than asking a six-year-old to memorize a complicated part in a play, for example, he could be asked to memorize one or two lines. A dissatisfied ten-year-old could be asked to memorize a story and recite it to her younger counterparts.
  • A well-balanced lesson should include activities that engage the many different kinds of learners—visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic. As an example, the Ruhi curriculum includes memorization (visual/auditory), colouring and drawing (visual/tactile), singing and stories (auditory), and games and drama (auditory/kinesthetic). You could add other activities or adjust existing ones to tip the balance one way or the other: for example, crafts add a tactile element to class, dance or yoga add a kinesthetic element, and service projects generally involve all four types.

experience

2 thoughts on “lesson planning

  1. Hi
    This is the first time teaching, so I’m gathering tons of great ideas from online. . . .
    I was looking for help: how do I introduce pre-schoolers to the lessons in book three?

    • Hi Jay! I’m no expert in early childhood learning, but I’d say that the younger the children, the more they need to be engaged through play in a looser, more flexible environment than what we usually think of as a children’s class. For instance, we take our two-year-old son to a playgroup that consists of an hour or more of free play, with different toys and activities spread across the room in stations, and about fifteen minutes of “circle time” at the end for songs and stories. You could always experiment with a similar structure, and use songs and stories similar to the ones in Book 3 during the circle time. To keep it light, you could sing just one verse of the songs from Book 3, add a few other short songs, and perhaps use shorter versions of the stories.

      I’d also suggest you check out the Radiant Hearts program at Enable Me To Grow if you haven’t already. Chelsea, the author of that site, has done a lot of work putting together a collection of 19 multimedia lessons that are geared towards families with young children. You might find a lot of the resources there appropriate for what you’re doing.

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