Friday, October 31, 2008

Innovative children's class in the park leads to "friends forever"

Here is a delightful report about an innovative approach to a children’s class in New Hampshire (A). You see the integration of children’s classes with teaching efforts with reaching out to neighbors. The result is much joy and new “friends forever”.

“Sundays in the Park” was a pilot program for neighborhood children’s classes held in a park for eight weeks in July and August 2008. The Book 3 curriculum was used. Graduates from Ruhi Book 3 were the teachers, each rotating and committing to teach two classes. The rotation was a great way to mobilize human resources.

Students included both children from the Bahá’í community and 8 to 18 other children from nearby apartments who come from several different countries. Some parents also attend these classes with their kids. This is a very receptive population. . . .

Classes included memorization of prayer, sacred writings, a story, song and game. Children were eager and attentive to learn quotations and prayers. Visuals and role play were helpful in assisting with English. Each new child returned home with color pages and box of crayons.

There are now 9 new believers associated with this effort. One of the friends visited families and highlighted themes from Anna’s presentation in their own language. All the children have continued into fall classes. We also hope to continue home visits and begin a weekly class for parents, as well as a junior youth group.

Rotating teachers and assistant teams each week was a successful approach. It enabled us to mobilize human resources and help them do the practice components of the Ruhi Books. These teachers and assistants not only taught the classes but were accompanied on home visits, sharing Anna’s presentation as prayer partners or presenters. During the children’s classes, the assistants were essential to help monitor children, maintain focus and discipline, and meet specific needs.

The friends have found it absolutely essential to accompany the children to and from the park each week where the class was held. This was a must to ensure attendance and safety!

When one of the children visited the Bahá’ís at their home, they went into the backyard. Once they were seated on the lawn chairs, she suggested “it was time for prayers”. Clearly she has made this connection from the children’s class.

The teachers felt they would never have met these precious families had they not participated in the intensive teaching effort in the spring. A team had initially met two individuals from the neighborhood at a laundromat. They feel they have met people who have enriched their life and with whom they will be friends forever.

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