One of the beautiful things about sending children to public schools is the great opportunity for educating others about Islam. Children gain confidence in their selves and in their identity as Muslim-Americans when they know they can share their traditions with their friends at school. It has a profound effect on children knowing that their holiday is recognized and celebrated by their mostly non-Muslim school community. We all hope to raise a generation of kids who are fully engaged in their society and communities, while not feeling the need to ‘hide’ who they are.
We have made it a point to share Eid in my daughter’s school ever since pre-school. We try to do less with each year, while having her do more, in the hopes that one day she will be doing the entire presentation and leading of activities on her own. Here are some things we are doing this year for Eid ul-Adha:
1. School staff lunch. We are arranging a luncheon for the school staff two days after Eid. We communicate with all the school’s Muslim families, either through e-mail or by handing out flyers, and ask them all to contribute a dish. We also display informational material about Eid and Hajj (or Ramadan for Eid ul-Fitr).
2. In-class presentation. We are doing a short lessonin my child’s class focusing on the Hajj and concepts of international unity, and our personal Eid family traditions. We use pictures, other visuals, and video if possible. The kids’ favorite part is always seeing the picture of the Kaaba surrounded by the pilgrims. They can’t believe all those white dots are people!3. Parent-led projects for kids. This year, because my daughter is in a parent-participation elementary school, we are organizing four different Eid-related activity centers’ that the kids will rotate through and complete:
- A geography treasure hunt game where kids use coordinates to find countries on a map and then use the first letter of each country to spell something out (like Happy Eid!)
- Faux stained glass project focusing on geometric designs
- Figuring out how to spell their names in Arabic using cards with Arabic letters and associated phonetics
- Baking ma’mul (date cookies) using crescent roll dough and date jam
- Constructing Eid lanterns with colorful paper
4. Gift-giving. We also give small gifts to each child in the class, and gifts to other major staff members (teacher, principal, secretaries, etc.).
These ideas can be made elaborate or simple, but always involve your own child as much as possible. Keep the excitement level high and your child will feel so proud to share a part of herself and her faith with her class.
Bhawana Kamil teaches Philosophy at Evergreen Valley College and is actively involved with the Bay Area chapter of the Muslim American Society, the Interfaith Council of Economics and Justice, and California Interfaith Power and Light. She’s a proud wife of a Child Welfare Worker and proud mommy to a girl and a boy.