From April 13 to May 12, Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the most important time of the year. Ramadhan is a month of prayer and reflection. It is also a month when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and spend time connecting with their families and community.
During the month of Ramadhan, Muslims wake up before sunrise and have breakfast before they start fasting. In the evening, they gather at their homes or in the Mosque with family and friends to have a meal after the sunset. At night, many Muslims join in ninety-minute prayers at the Mosques.
The Meaning of Fasting in Ramadhan
Fasting is not something unique to Islam – many other cultures in the world use fasting as a part of their religion and culture.
The purpose of Ramadhan fasting lies in strengthening your sense of self-discipline and self-control. Fasting nurtures a spirit of sacrifice and self-restraint, encouraging empathy and understanding for those deprived of food and water without their free will.
In many Muslims, fasting in Ramadhan creates a greater sympathy for those in need, encouraging them to be more giving and generous.
How to Celebrate Ramadhan with Children
Growing up in a multicultural society has many benefits, offering children opportunities to learn about other cultures and traditions and grow up in open-minded, accepting adults. Here are some tips to help you educate kids about Ramadan and its importance.
- Encourage Children to Fast
Kids are not required to fast until they reach puberty. However, you can encourage your children to fast “half-days,” and this is something we encourage at Ilham Child Care Centre.
Of course, fasting is not obligatory for little Ilhamites. However, we communicate with parents before Ramadhan, asking them if they would like their child to fast.
The kids have a choice of half-day and full-day fasting. We encourage those who decide to fast and keep a lookout for them.
At Ilham Child Care, we have a special curriculum during the month of Ramadhan. Children are thought about Ramadhan during Arabic lessons. Their Arabic and Malay language teachers share about Ramadhan and share cultural stories and practices. They explain why our Muslim friends fast. Also, cultural stories and traditions are exposed to children during their English lessons.
- Decorate Home Together
In addition to buying Ramadhan-inspired home decoration, make paper stars and crescents together with your kids and hang them around your home. Have them decorate their own rooms and help them hang twinkling lights and balloons around the house. During a festive celebration at the end of Ramadhan, let your kids paint traditional henna designs on their hands. All of this will help kids experience a special atmosphere during Ramadhan and feel like an important part of the celebration.
- Involve Kids in Meal Preparation
Cooking traditional Ramadhan dishes makes an integral part of this month-long holiday. Involve your children in the meal preparation and ask them to help you cook for the family on some nights during Ramadhan. Allowing them to cook traditional food will provide a sense of responsibility and togetherness and boost your child’s confidence.
At Ilham Child Care Centre, we have a special tradition of distributing free oats porridge from both our centres to staff, families and the public. The porridge is made with oats and brown rice instead of regular rice, to promote a healthier option for the public.
Although there is no special food served to children during this period, those students who fast get to bring back the food they have prepared during their cookery enrichment.
We also try to incorporate healthy recipes during cookery lessons at Ilham. For example, we use fruits instead of carbs for snacks and prepare our meals under the careful mentorship of Singapore’s Health Promotion Board. This means that our dishes are generally already healthy and nutritious
- Enjoy Eid Al-Fitr Festivities Together
Eid Al-Fitr (meaning “the festival of breaking the fast”), also known simply as Eid, marks the end of Ramadhan. Eid involves multi-day celebrations filled with festive activities for the whole family, such as home decorating, gathering to view the new moon, gift-giving and going to neighbourhood fairs. Kids particularly enjoy visits to amusement parks and eating special sweet treats during Eid Al-Fitr.
These are only a handful of ideas on how to teach kids about Ramadhan and help them celebrate the holiday.
How do you teach your kids about Ramadhan? Feel free to share your family traditions, ideas, and tips with us!