Baha’is believe in the power of prayer and you’ll find Baha’is and their friends, throughout the world, getting together to pray. This is often referred to as a ‘devotional gathering’ or ‘devotional meeting’, and they happen in diverse settings, whether in cities or villages.
Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
Blogging about Children’s Classes: An Interview with Leyla Neilsen
Recently, I came across a fantastic blog by Leyla Neilsen from New Zealand devoted entirely to one of the core activities: children’s classes! It’s a fantastic resource – not just for lots of creative ideas for really great children’s classes, but also as a source of inspiration and motivation for everyone out there who currently runs, or is looking to start, their very own children’s class!
I think Leyla’s blog is a fantastic example of how blogging can support and enhance the service that people are doing all over the world. And so, I caught up with her to have a quick chat about her blog, her children’s classes and her thoughts on blogging the Faith!
BB: Hi Leyla! So, tell me more about your time as a children’s class teacher.
I’ve been a children’s class teacher for a long time. 🙂 I think I started the minute people in our community found out I was pregnant – that was 12 years ago, back when I was living in Switzerland. We didn’t have the Ruhi curriculum to base any of the lessons on, so we made them up as we went – using lots of different resources from all over the world. My sister had put together some amazing lessons, that she used in her community in Canada, and the two of us kept sharing ideas and any resources we could get our hands on.
I moved to New Zealand in 2002, mostly based in rural communities where there aren’t very many Baha’is or resources. It was here that I was introduced to the Ruhi curriculum and have been trying to apply it in classes and children’s camps since.
BB: What made you decide to start blogging about your children’s classes?
I realized that I was forever preparing lessons, browsing gazillions of websites for craft and story ideas, activities and games. Although I’ve been using the Ruhi lessons, I wanted to make sure they didn’t get too repetitive and wanted to adjust the lessons to the various age groups I taught. Finding good references and sometimes clear instructions (for crafts) was often quite a mission.
It was just over a year ago that I figured that it actually would make sense to share the things I found – collate them all into one place for others to use as well. It was also at the time that we moved our children’s class from home to the local community centre and I found blogging about the classes helped me see how they developed over time. And as a bonus, it allowed parents to see what exactly we do in class! 🙂
BB: Do you think blogging has added to the experience?
Writing up my lessons before each class and then blogging about it after allowed me a much more structured approach. It’s given me discipline in a sense of keeping the classes regular, building on the things we learn from one class to the next.
Additionally, the children love having a look at their own pictures and artwork on the blog afterwards and it’s a great way to explain what we do exactly, to new people interested in sending their children along! I’ve also managed to link up with people from around the world, teaching classes, preparing art activities etc – who I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the blog.
BB: What do you have to say to those out there who run children’s classes and are thinking about starting their own blogs?
I think that in terms of sharing of resources and inspiring each other, what we do would be a lot easier with more blogging! I actually gave a little workshop at our last summer school (New Zealand North Island) on blogging about children’s classes and a few people seem to have picked it up.
I know that a few people use the materials I stick on our little blog – my mum teaches BESS classes in the Lismore, NSW community and told me she referes to my blog all the time. Yay!
BB: Thanks for your time, Leyla! Awesome work with the blog – can’t wait to see more!
Make sure to check out Leyla’s blog and let us know in the comments if you know of any other interesting blogs relating to service and the core activities!
In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Learning.