The month of Ramadan has just begun! During Ramadan, many Muslims like myself fast from sunup to sundown — not consuming food or water. If you have students who will be fasting during Ramadan, you may be wondering how you can best support them.
You are not alone.
This is always a topic that comes up in forums and Facebook groups around this time of year. Educators want to know how to adjust lessons for students observing Ramadan and how to incorporate movement during a time when those students must conserve energy.
Shifting how you teach health and PE during this time is essential. Here are some tips for teaching health and physical education during Ramadan:
Focus on SEL-Based Activities
Ramadan is the perfect time to focus on social and emotional learning-based activities like those found in the health. moves. minds. program. Making adjustments to your lessons and activities during this time does not need to be a heavy lift — you can teach the same lesson to all your students, not just those who are fasting.
Low-intensity, SEL-based activities are great for all learners and all ages. Remember inclusivity is key and teaching these skills will only bring the students together.
During Ramadan, Muslims focus on being more mindful of our own thoughts and the thoughts and feelings of others. We focus on avoiding anger and learning how to control our emotions.
As a teacher, you can provide activities that help students stay mindful, such as SHAPE America’s Mindful Minute activities and Mind & Body calendars. Have your students print out our Mindfulness Pledge template cards and make daily pledges with friends and family around being more mindful.
Our Emoji Rating Scale is a great at-home printable for our younger K-5 learners. Have parents print out the chart and ask their children to identify where they fall on the scale each day. This will help with emotion recognition and identification.
During Ramadan, we also focus on gratitude and kindness. Muslims fast to ground themselves, recalibrate, and make sure they are empathic to the trials of others, whether that is sharing food and resources with someone less fortunate who cannot afford full meals — or just taking time to understand people’s emotions, backgrounds and feelings. Use our Kindness Challenge cards and activities to help promote kindness and gratitude.
Offer Low-Intensity Movement
What about movement? Make sure to offer fitness-based activities like stretching, yoga or any other low-intensity movement activity that you see fit. Check out our Family Field Day resources for low-intensity, social and emotional-based resources, as well as our Quick Student Challenges around kindness.
As you think about lesson planning during Ramadan each year, remember to focus on what you can teach, not what you can’t. Thank you and Ramadan Mubarak to all our community members celebrating!
Yasmeen Taji-Farouki is senior manager of Community Initiatives and Social Impact at SHAPE America. She is also the program lead for SHAPE America’s health. moves. minds. program, the new service-learning program that raises funds for schools and teaches students how to thrive physically and emotionally! She can be reached at YTaji-Farouki@shapeamerica.org.