This was the first year that I mustered up the courage to volunteer a special Ramadan Storytime at my daughters’ daycare [Preschool]. With the political climate, it’s always a scary step to take to introduce our religious traditions in a non-Muslim setting, but also it’s so crucial. For me, this is not something new. I distinctly remember my parents visiting my school on several occasions, to talk about Ramadan and Eid, share gifts and our food, our culture and our beliefs with non-Muslims. And I think it’s something that gave me confidence at school, when I was one of just two girls who wore hijab.
When I approached the School administration, they were extremely welcoming and supportive- which felt great. I explained that I would handle everything, from reading a storybook or two, bringing materials for a craft and treats for the students.
The most interested persons in this entire thing were my daughters. Especially my eldest one, Ridha asked me countless times, “But Mummy why are you coming to my school?”. She didn’t quite understand the importance of bringing Ramadan to her classroom. But once I explained it to her, I’m pretty sure she understood. And this is the purpose of my going; not just to educate little non-muslim children, but to educate my own children on how they can peacefully spread the message of Islam to the world and be confident to share who they are and the traditions they celebrate.
Our special Ramadan Storytime session went like this…
- Introduction to Ramadan: Inspired by Hira at ZairZabrPlay, she has an entire detailed post and I used this as a guide.
- Ramadan Countdown Calendar: We looked at the calendar I had made last year and picked a few good deeds to read and identify. The visuals are amazing for this age.
- It’s Ramadan Curious George: I chose this book mainly because it’s a character many of the children identified with and it’s a Western perspective on introducing Ramadan. There are literally so many (Islamic authored) books out there now that are appropriate too.
- Decorate-Your-Own Lantern Craft: I brought beads, stars and moon confetti and pom poms to decorate lanterns and then string together for a classroom decoration that will stay up for the month of Ramadan. Free printable lanterns from @SweetFajr.
- Goodie Bags & Cupcakes: The goodie bags included bubbles, stickers, cookies and kit kat. The nut-free cupcakes were chocolate/vanilla, topped with homemade moon and star cupcake toppers.
It was amazing to see the excitement in this age group. The children were so welcoming, and engaged in whatever we spoke about. I think speaking about Ramadan as a month of giving back is a great way to connect with little ones. They also volunteered different ways that we can show acts of kindness in their community. The countdown calendar was a major hit as it was a tangible visual aid, depicting different actions that the children could identify. The free printables inside the calendar are from ZairZabrPlay and you can find them here.
If you are toying with the idea whether or not to do something like this at your child’s school, my advice is to just do it. The teachers and staff are so appreciative and welcoming. And it’s a great way for us to introduce Islamic tradition in a very peaceful way.
After this session, the Director of the preschool e-mailed all of the parents with a thank you note as well as an open invitation to other parents to come and share in the same way. Who knows, you may be opening doors for others who are hesitant.
Have you ever spoken at your child’s school? If so, what did you find successful, please do share your experience in the comments!