Most people are already familiar with the word Ramadan. Being the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, it is the most special and revered month in which Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to dusk. What does this mean for educators who have fasting kids in their classes? How do you interact with them? Is there anything that you need to do differently? It boils down to respect for culture and religion as well as tolerance and encouragement. Teaching in a diversified and multi-cultural classroom can be a challenge.
Below are a few pointers, which educators who are not very familiar with Ramadan can take into consideration during this holy month.
Even though very young children usually do not fast, you will still see kids as young as 8 or 9 fasting with fervor. Since eating and drinking (water included) is not allowed during the day, it would be considerate to send these kids to a room during lunch break, a ‘fasting room’ as it were. If most kids are fasting and the non-fasting kids are in the minority, then they could move with their lunch to another room.
Teenaged kids usually handle the typical sports/gym/track/outdoor activities well even when fasting. However, the UAE tends to get unbearably hot most of the year. As such, teachers may want to try alternative activities that reduce the time that these students spend outdoors. In case of the younger children, a little extra care/attention would also be appreciated.
Most educators will have issues with behaviour and classroom management issues at one point or another. Children who are fasting are also given awareness at home about the significance of fasting. They are told that it is not about hunger and thirst but rather about self-control and developing good habits. This is an opportune time frame to remind students about this concept and to incorporate it in your daily endeavours to make them better people on the whole.
For educational institutes that get off later in the afternoon, there may be some kids who would want to offer their afternoon prayers. Though in Islam prayers are mandatory for all adults, younger children and elder ones alike often pay more attention to this aspect. Perhaps a short 10-minute interval could be granted for kids who are adamant about this. Most kids are usually at home in time, but just in case.
Homework and Assignments
During Ramadan, it is possible that children may not be able to keep up with the load of homework and assignments, especially younger kids who often rely on the supervision and guidance of their parents. Ramadan is a very social month. Relatives and friends usually visit each other for Iftar (breaking of the fast) and attend Taraweeh (extra prayers after night prayers). Ramadan is also a month where extra worship and reading of the Holy Quran are given priority as compared to the other months of the year. In order to assist students during this time, it may be wise to minimise the number of assignments.
Ramadan usually lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the lunar cycle. The first three days of the next month are celebrated with joy and gusto as Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-fitr. Some children enjoy exchanging gifts and cards before hand, don’t be surprised if they come up to you and wish you an Eid Mubarak in advance.
By Rahima Jabeen
Miss Rahima Jabeen is a primary grade school teacher who has taught in Pakistan and Dubai. She writes a personal blog and one on Young Islamic Minds. Rahima is also a makeup enthusiast who shares reviews on makeup in her makeup blog Yet More Makeup.