Sometimes, especially living in Western countries and even in Islamic societies surrounded by Western ideas and expectations, it is hard to keep young children interested in participating in acts of worship when they would rather be watching TV, playing on the playstation or on the internet. As parents, it is very important that we model the actions and behaviors we want our children to emmulate and follow. There are many examples from the sahaba that we can follow and also new ones that we can share from amongst ourselves.
Below is an example of a calender for the month of Ramadan. There are 30 pockets, one for each day of Ramadan. There can be different kinds of surprises hiding inside. Sometimes it will be a special type of candy or chocolate, or it will be a colorful paper with something written on it to encourage them in performing good deeds during this special month.
These could be reading a surah or aya depending on the child’s level, donating a certain amount of their own allowance to the poor, doing other forms of charity for needy people, such as helping an elderly couple clean their yard, offer to do their grocery shopping, or collecting clothing, books and toys for a poor family. If your family is not that adventurous, it can be something like having an older brother reading a story at bedtime to the younger kids, or teaching them to play a new game or helping someone learn new surahs from the Quran.
This particular calender was made from left over pieces of material from another project. Loops at the top slide over a stick so that it can be hung.
Other traditions are lighting fanouse (lanterns) that have Islamic designs on it. In our case each child was allowed to buy their own style. Another fun family activity is to have one child choose a hadith from books like Riyadh us-saliheen and discuss it around the family table during breaking fast. Another activity can be reading from the Quran together as a family in order to bring out the essence of Ramadan. This also sets a good example for the children as they grow up. Some households have the women prepare bags of laban, dates and water which the sons and father pass out either at shopping centers or street intersections. This is something that is fun yet needs to be supervised by an adult.
Brainstorm and see what kinds of traditions your family already has or what can you start to make Ramadan important. Let the children talk with grandparents to see what they used to do during Ramadan in the “old days”. Not only will the elders feel special, but it will increase the bond between generations.
May Allah increase us in knowlege and faith.