The Role Teachers Play During Ramadhan
The beautiful month of Ramadhan has just passed. Ramadhan is a holy month for Muslims worldwide that revolves around togetherness, kindness, charity, and community. Fasting from dawn until dusk and prayers are the pivots of Ramadhan, so many children decide to join their families and friends in fasting. However, abstaining from food is not obligatory for children.
In addition to a special curriculum that we have during the month of Ramadhan, children at Ilham Child Care Centre are encouraged to fast with the support of their teachers and friends.
While highly rewarding, the role of a teacher can be challenging too. If you are unsure how to support your students who are practising the Ramadhan fast, here are some practical guidelines to help you out.
- Understand the Month of Ramadhan
One of the essential steps in creating a safe environment for your students to practice the Ramadhan fast is to educate yourself and other children about the month of Ramadhan and the practice of fasting.
In our diverse classrooms, we have kids of different cultural and religious backgrounds. During the month of Ramadhan, your specially designed curriculum can help connect them to Ramadhan and its importance to Islam and discuss the similar practices in other religions, teaching them universal human qualities such as compassion, empathy, generosity, and humility.
Many teachers and peers may not understand why their students and classmates fast during this month, which is why it is important to share and try to help others understand what Ramadhan is all about.
While kids are not required to fast until they reach puberty (usually from the age of 13 and up), many of our families encourage children to practice fasting during the holy month. We support this by offering a “half-day” fasting choice in collaboration with parents. So, our students can fast from either morning until about noon or from noon until the evening.
Children who decide to fast can choose between “half-day” and “full-day” fast with extensive support from their teachers.
- Adjust Your Expectations
Throughout the month of Ramadhan, students who are fasting may experience difficulty concentrating and paying attention. They may also appear more irritable and easily frustrated. Understanding the challenges your students may be going through due to fasting can help you adjust expectations in the classroom and be supportive.
- Don’t Plan Physically Demanding Activities
Your students observing Ramadhan may be experiencing low energy, weakness, and decreased blood sugar throughout the month, so keep that in mind when planning your classroom activities. While incorporating movement is one of the essential parts of your curriculum, try modifying physical activities during this month, adjusting them to your students’ energy levels.
Offer low-intensity movements such as yoga or stretching, mindfulness exercises for kids and focus on the health aspect of your health and PE curriculum.
- Be Flexible
Keep in mind different sleeping schedules (due to breaking of fast and prayers in the evening) and fatigue in students when scheduling assignments, homework and distance learning lessons.
Try to limit the duration of video conferences for online students, as fasting can sometimes cause tiredness, headaches and irritability, and an increased amount of screen time can play a role in these problems.
- Plan Alternative Activities during Lunchtime
Younger students who practice fasting during Ramadhan may experience difficulties during lunchtime if sitting in a room where their classmates are eating.
Since Ramadhan fast is about awareness, not suffering, offer your Muslim students an alternative place and activities to enjoy during lunch. Spending time outside, playing fun games, or reading books can be valuable alternatives.
Planning and carrying out your classroom activities may be difficult due to classroom challenges such as low human resources or big classes and teacher-student ratios.
To cope and support one another, teachers should not shy away from asking for help or expertise from others. For example, ask your Muslim colleague about the month of Ramadhan and its significance for Islam. Ask them to share some stories with your students or plan Ramadhan-based activities together.
Don’t forget to breathe. Take small, mindful breaks throughout the day to still your mind and recharge energy. If you fast, set your priorities and employ time management skills to avoid fatigue, stress, and low mood.
Talk to others and share your ideas, experiences and feelings. This exchange can be beneficial if you struggle to maintain children’s interest in the classroom, as it can help you feel supported and equip you with new, original ideas.
While helping their students learn and develop, teachers are also learning and growing too. Remember that every new day is a unique learning opportunity. Stay positive and support each other!
What do you think about our efforts? Please feel welcome to share with us what you do to teach your kids about Ramadhan.