Commonly asked questions about Children’s Classes
What is a Children’s Class?
Children’s Classes are spiritual education classes. They focus on the development of spiritual qualities (such as truthfulness) and learning about spiritual principles (such as the Golden Rule). The materials used in these classes have been developed over many years and classes are offered in almost every country in the world.
The classes are based on the teachings from the Bahá’í Faith, which we believe everyone can benefit from – Bahá’í or not. Even though the children learn the basic principles, teachings and beliefs of the Bahá’í Faith, the emphasis is on learning to think and to reflect, and to apply spiritual laws to our individual lives and within our community.
Who are these classes for?
These classes are for all children, regardless of religious or cultural background. They are inclusive and open to all children. In New Zealand, about 50 – 60 of these classes are offered around the country. Currently several hundred children participate in these classes, and the majority of these children are not from Bahá’í families.
The classes are often based around neighbourhoods, so that children can build bonds of friendship and the community itself can be strengthened. Others from the community are encouraged to be involved with the classes – either directly, or by helping with neighbourhood-based service activities.
Will you talk about God?
We encourage the children to develop an individual relationship with God. Bahá’ís believe that people from all religions worship the same God even if they call Him by different names. We also believe that God is essentially unknowable. We are not trying to teach a certain ideology of God, because we believe that everyone has his or her own understanding of and connection to God.
Who teaches the classes?
People all around the world volunteer their time to offer these classes to children in their communities. The teachers of these classes are not spiritual leaders or priests; in fact the Bahá’í Faith has no clergy. Quite often they are not Bahá’ís themselves, but see the value in the programme and are interested in helping the children in their neighbourhood.
How are the teachers trained?
Teachers are trained by completing a course of study, developed by the Ruhi Institute and used internationally. This is a free course of study that is available to all people interested in the life of the spirit and building capacity to be of service to humanity. It focuses on developing individual capacity, and the skills and attitudes needed to serve others and the wider community.
Children’s class teachers must also obtain Child Protection Policy accreditation. This involves attending a workshop, having a criminal records check, and going through a process of vetting by Bahá’í institutions.
What are some of the key Bahá’í educational beliefs?
Spiritual education is important for everyone, especially in childhood, since that is when the foundation of our character is established. A fundamental principle underlying Bahá’í education is “the essential nobility of man.” We believe that each child is created noble, and spiritual education nurtures this inner nobility and enables children to withstand the negative societal influences that surround us.
Another fundamental principle of Bahá’í education is that each child is a “mine rich in gems of inestimable value”, and that it is only through education that the true worth of these gems may be realised. It is the role of the teachers to help bring out these gems, and to identify and nurture the special talents that each child possesses.
What does a lesson look like?
In the first grade, we cover 24 themes. Each theme is reinforced by various activities, such as:
- memorisation of prayers and quotations
- cooperative games
- drama and other activities in later grades
What is expected from the parents?
This is a team effort! We welcome you to sit in on the classes or help in the background. If you have some special talent, we’d love to know about it. Maybe you sing well or play an instrument and can come help uplift the hearts with your talent. Or maybe you can teach a craft or bake muffins.
Parents can become teachers themselves by going through the Ruhi Institute training, which is offered free of charge. It is very flexible, is offered as distance education course and run in a study group format.
Children’s class teachers will meet with the parents periodically and share with them the progress they have seen in the children. They may also share some of the materials from the classes or quotes related to the educational process, and answer any questions parents have.
There is no cost for the classes, but parents are welcome to give a small koha towards material costs.
How do I find out more?
If you’re interested in finding out about children’s classes near you, use our contact form to get in touch.