Talk to your kids about what fasting means and how much closer it brings you to Allah. Tell them about what makes their fast void and how they need to be patient and control their anger. Look up the rules together to see what happens to the fast if one drinks water accidentally, if one needs to travel, and so on.
“Oh, it’s going to be my daughter’s first Ramadan! But I wonder how she will be able to do it? I mean, it’s summer time, it will be hot! Will she be too tired to go to the mosque at night? Oh, I hope she will like it and not be discouraged.”
Ramadan is just around the corner, and those beginning the fasts for the first time are going to have it hard. The days of fasting will be longer and there will be no school to occupy their time. During Ramadan we fast, go to mosque, spend extra time in prayers, host Iftaars and go to iftaars. If the first few days go by badly for the ones coming of age, they might become disheartened and not want to continue. Therefore, we must try to prepare them for their first Ramadan.
When I usually talk to children about fasting, most of them seem to be nervous and ask: how can we not eat or drink for the day? When the child is not prepared, then yes, it will definitely be hard for them. But if the child is prepared, mentally and physically, (s)he will not find the idea as daunting.
One way to prepare them for fasting would be to start gradually fasting a week before Ramadan. On the first day, have them not eat anything until noon; the next day, have them not eat anything until 2:00 pm, and so on. Each day, add a few hours until they are used to it.
Once their iftaar time does come, have them drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits. Also, have a treat ready for them, like a snack-size chocolate bar or a cookie. They can help set the table for iftaar and can learn the short du’a to recite before eating. Be sure to wake them up for suhoor, and make the food interesting, and don’t forget their vitamins. Have the whole family wake up together and eat together, and that way it will be easier to get up at the early hour. After they pray Fajr, they can go back to bed. Also, when eating suhoor together, inform them of the benefits of suhoor and Ramadan. Explain how by just waking up early to eat and by sleeping during the day they will be rewarded.
Talk to your kids about what fasting means and how much closer it brings you to Allah. Tell them about what makes their fast void and how they need to be patient and control their anger. Look up the rules together to see what happens to the fast if one drinks water accidentally, if one needs to travel, and so on. Explain to your children the importance of the nights of Qadr and why we do special prayers on these nights. Discuss the martyrdom of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and how it happened, who did it (i.e. the Kharijites), and who the Kharijites are.
Take your children to the programs at the mosque. There are usually lectures, Qur’an classes, and other fun activities for kids. This way they’ll be learning something new and they will like to come every night and see other kids. If you are unable to go to the mosque, have your own little classes at home together as a family.
At home, sit down with your kids during the day and play interactive trivia games. There are some board games and online games. You can get ideas and make your own at home, maybe even let the kids help you make them so it can be something to do together.
At one site I found some very fun and knowledgeable games which could be used for Muslims generally. The site is called Ramadan Resources, and they have created a PowerPoint Ramadan version of Jeopardy!. You don’t need the computer for this; you can easily make your own at home with paper. Here is another link to another general Muslim website: it has lots of fun activities you can do with your kids.
Have your kids create one of those Ramadan calendars where they write what they want to do or achieve for each day. They can have fun decorating their own calendar, and they can straighten out what they want to do and achieve this Ramadan. Also, you’ll know what they want to do specifically, like pray on time, and you can help them accomplish their goals.
For more ideas of things to do with your children to get them into the spirit of Ramadan, go online, and you will find many great ideas as well as books that would prove very beneficial. Play and Learn is a Shia website which not only has activities for kids but also rules and Islamic information.
There are many things that you can do with your children during the month of Ramadan, but you don’t have to do all of it. Just try a little game here and a few nights of short supplications there. Don’t push everything onto the child; first start slowly with all the obligatory things, and once in a while add in a mustahab act. Having the child do loads of recommended things may discourage them too. Also, sometimes parents are more nervous than the children themselves. Try not to get too nervous because if the child is looking forward to Ramadan and they see that you are nervous, they will become nervous too. So remember, keep it calm and keep it fun!