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(US – FL & MA, February)
Some key insights regarding the establishment of children’s classes that were shared at reflection meetings in Pensacola (“Emerald Coast”) and Boston (A-stage) clusters, respectively.
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From a report in the Emerald Coast cluster’s newsletter:
The friends [were encouraged] to describe the core activities consistent with the language used by the Universal House of Justice about their purpose and nature:
How to describe the core activities
We are building a spiritual community and we need you! The Bahá’í Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples into One Universal Cause, One Common Faith.
For inviting families to children’s classes:
Aware of the aspirations of the children of the world and their need for spiritual education, we’re working to involve more and more children in children’s classes to serve as centers of attraction for them and to strengthen the roots of Faith in society.
From the reflection meeting
A “demonstration children’s class”, was performed where all the participants could watch an actual class being conducted. Each portion of a children’s class (prayer & memorization, song, story, coloring, and game) was presented by one or more of the friends in a class setting. It included
- the initial gathering
- setting the children down (with need of reverence)
- sharing of prayers
- how to help the children memorize short quotes and prayers
- the process of teaching patience and sharing when passing out colors
- instilling the theme for that day with the picture to color
- the game (always a hit)
The performance by the teachers made it seem easy for the viewers to follow their example.
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Report from the Boston cluster’s reflection meeting:
What we’ve learned
- Many classes are facing burnout from having only one teacher. In addition to new classes we need support for the existing ones
- We may need to visit people who have gone through Book 3 previously and are not active and try to engage them in our classes that are already set up
- Having prospective teachers at established sites helps them to learn how to conduct a class and also lends more support to the existing class
- It may help existing classes to also look in the neighborhoods for prospective co-teachers (providing opportunity to teach as well)
- Try as much as possible to interact with parents to build vision…. this may take multiple visits so do not be discouraged
- Potential ways to start a class:
- Start small in a neighborhood and allow the kids to bring their friends
- Try to conduct classes in an open space because kids will be curious/interested in finding out
- Initiate with Baha’i children. If you can capture their interest then they will be more apt to reach out to their friends/neighbors and bring seekers
- When starting new classes a lot of emphasis has to be put in finding teachers that don’t have to travel far to get to the site (reduces burnout)
- Understanding how to have control over kids also reduces burnout
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Leading a song during a children’s class, Jenjarom, Malaysia.
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Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children, young plants of the Abhá Paradise, so that these children, fostered by grace in the way of salvation, growing like pearls of divine bounty in the shell of education, will one day bejewel the crown of abiding glory.
It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day, and become an ensign of God’s abounding grace; that these children, reared one and all in the holy Teachings, will develop natures like unto the sweet airs that blow across the gardens of the All-Glorious, and will waft their fragrance around the world.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections Sec. 106
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Classes for the spiritual education of children and junior youth serve to strengthen the roots of the Faith in the local population… Whatever the nature of the cluster, it is imperative to pay close attention to children and junior youth everywhere. Concern for the moral and spiritual education of young people is asserting itself forcefully on the consciousness of humanity, and no attempt at community building can afford to ignore it.
– The Universal House of Justice, 27 December 2005
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(From reports, adapted from the teaching blog http://teaching.bahai.us/2010/02/newsletter-coordination-describing-core.html, and from an email circular received from the Boston Area Teaching Committee.) (Image is copyright Bahá’í World Centre – view here.)