I am sure that back when you were at school, RE was probably another word for dossing around because it wasn’t a *real* qualification. I will admit that I was guilty of just that, however, as I have grown older I have learned to love learning about different cultures.
Now that children are in the mix, it serves as only more reason to learn about the various cultures that aren’t only present around the world, are on our doorstep. Of course, when maths, literacy and science take up almost all of their educational time, with barely an hour a week reserved for other subjects such as RE, that isn’t much time at all to actually learn anything.
Make Religious Studies Relatable
Perhaps I was never truly interested in RE in my school days because I just couldn’t relate to anything that was being said. Not coming from a particularly religious family, there wasn’t anything spoken about that I had any way to relate to. Whether that says more about our teacher’s techniques or our ignorance, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I am keen for my children to not only have an interest, but to have an understanding different religions and cultures.
With children digesting media from a very early age, modern-day role models are celebrities such as famous sports stars, actors and actresses or, even more modern, YouTubers. So it makes sense to compile a list of celebrities and their religion (if you can find this out on the internet, of course) – this way, there is an initial link to help them relate to what they are learning.
For example, if a school child idolises Paul Pogba, the Manchester United footballer, and learn that he is a devout Muslim, this may spark an interest in wanting to learn about the religion and culture.
When you delve a little bit deeper into any religion, learning the different traditions can be difficult. For example, zakat and the donation of sadaqah on the face of it is the same thing in Muslim culture, whereby a donation is made. However, where zakat (an annual donation based on the financial earnings) is compulsory, sadaqah is a voluntary act of giving.
As children learn in different ways, reading from a textbook or listening to someone speak aloud isn’t always the most effective method of learning. Instead, why not make use of role play or discussions? Active learning is proven to be effective in helping the learner better retain information by getting the learner to participate in an activity. Many learn better by ‘doing’ than simply listening and reading.
If you are unsure as to how you can incorporate a role play on religious traditions, why not plan a small field trip where you can speak to someone active in the community? You will find that doors are always open and community leaders, especially those in different ethnic groups, are more than happy to speak.
Celebrations and Festivals
Festivals mean parties and what child doesn’t love a party? Children will all be familiar with the Christian celebration Christmas, even if they may not necessarily know the religious meaning behind the holiday. Understanding the meaning of any celebration, whether that be Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr or Hanukkah, is always a good thing to have.
Everyone celebrates in their own way, so the way in which a Jewish family celebrates Hanukkah may be different from another family, the same way in which Christians have their own traditions at Christmas. Have fun when introducing different religious festivals with children, potentially inviting others to join in on any activities that you have planned – the more the merrier and, when you are having fun, you forget that you are learning!
Hopefully this has sparked your creative juices in coming up with ways how to make RE fun for your kids. When something is easily relatable, it immediately becomes easier to learn and understand.
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