It’s that time of year. One can sense the adrenalin rushing in to get things in place, to buy gifts and groceries, to stuff freezers with samosas and kababs, to get the house in order, all so that we can focus on getting our spirits ready for Ramadan. In the focused frenzy to prepare our homes, our families and ourselves, I’ve noticed a lot of folks decide to put education on the shelf for the whole month. Yes, this blessed month of Ramadan is a time for self reflection and remembrance of God, but our religiosity cannot be a selfish one which shields our children from its beauty for our own lack of energy, creativity or time. I started thinking abo t ut this more when I heard moms talking about how they were going to try to reap the benefits of this month “in spite of” their children. If we want to raise a generation of Muslims who will be confident in their actions of Ibadah while enjoying them, we have to include them in our own Ibadah and make it appealing to them. Tall order? Yes, but if something is not going to take much out of us now then it won’t give much back later either. So, with that in mind, here are a few thoughts and ideas, original and borrowed, to affect our schooling with the spirit of Ramadan.
Preparing our homes for Ramadan has the same special feeling as readying the home for a special guest. The idea is that Ramadan deserves the same respect and excitement that our families would display if we knew the President was coming to visit us.
In our family, we’ve always enjoyed sending out Ramadan Mubarak cards to all our friends and relatives. All major card manufacturers in the US have created a Ramadan section for their e-cards making this an enjoyable and easy activity, even for the little ones.
This year families in the US have an extraordinary opportunity. Ramadan falls when school is out, thus affording many young students the opportunity to fast without being occupied with school and homework, affording them more time with each other. We should include children in the meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking this month. Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to teach our children about Muslim cultures worldwide. Families should explore how Muslims worldwide open fasts, the foods they eat and the sunnah that bind them together. We must teach our children the virtues of serving others first and inculcate the adab(etiquette) of setting a beautiful table setting. As a child, I remember the hour before Iftar was the most exciting in our home. If any of us have Muslim neighbors, it’s a great idea to open fast together.
Let our families make the most of those few precious moments before iftar when prayers are accepted, by sitting our children down, making du’a with them and teaching our little ones adhkar (remembrance) that they can practice forever after, inshaAllah.
It should go without saying that Ramadan should be television and entertainment free. We should encourage our children and show them through example, to spend more time reading the Quran or memorizing Surahs. Reading books on the Seerah and learning about the sahabas are excellent additions to this months library time.
Throughout the month, my older children accompany either myself or my husband to Taraweeh prayers, but on the night of Laylatul Qadr we bring even our little ones in order to go as a family. If going to the masjid is just not possible for your family that night, then recreate the ambiance at home. Engage everyone in the recitation of the last juz with translation so that the many stories it contains can be retold and talked about.
Of all the activities this month, my kids are most excited when the times comes to prepare for Eid. Making goody bags for their friends, sending Eid cards to family, buying gifts for each other, henna gatherings for the girls and getting our outfits ready for the holiday have become some of our family’s pre-Eid traditions.
Ramadan is a fleeting guest. The month of mercy ends before we know it, so let us work to make it a wonderful time of year for our families, so our children look forward to it each year. The Quran tells us that “fasting is prescribed for us, like for those before us”, but we can all see how we are the only people left who observe it with worldwide significance. We have to train ourselves and our children to observe this month with complete sincerity. May it be an educational, enjoyable and immensely reward filled time of year for all of us, with our children beside us, inshaAllah.
Shaheen is teacher turned home educator of four residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a homeschool consultant for Kinza Academy and runs a blog on educating our children holistically. Please visit it at www.soulfulstudies.
Some additional resources for ideas: