Cross-Religious Education has become popular and is effectively used in Early Years settings, Schools and in Home Education. It is also one of the most effective ways to introducing children to the multicultural and multi-religious world. This approach not only makes children aware of the very existence of other religions and helps them understand the world of faith more, but it also encourages children to develop open-minded attitudes and respect towards individuality of others. Cross-Religious Education promotes positive images of other religions and allows children to satisfy their curiosity about religious practices, celebrations and rituals they often see their friends observing. This, as a result, helps to prevent discriminatory and negative attitudes, which in modern times seems to be the foundation for our children’s peaceful future.
Cross-Religious Education can be successfully practiced as part of Home Schooling, and can be extremely useful when you travel.
Here are Top Five Tips on how you can introduce your children to Cross-Religious Education:
1. Celebrations – participating in an open religious celebration is the best way to befriend your child with any religion. Often these are well-organized events and people from the outside are usually welcome, although it is always good to ask whether you can join in. You should be able to find posters promoting such events in your area – they may be small local celebrations or big public festivities held in your city center. As there usually are many people gathering to watch and participate, you will often be served delicious food related to a specific religious tradition. There may be stage shows, processions, gigs, singing and dancing – all very exciting!
2. Books and Stories – introduce books that promote various religions, ideally with colorful pictures and images of children engaged in religious ritual or practices such as painting Easter egg, playing Hanuka games, making Ramadan decorations, etc. What all children love is bedtime stories, and you will find plenty of good books full of unique stories from the many world religions and traditions in your local book store or library. No matter what religion they refer to, there will usually be a positive message at the end of the story which you can discuss with your child. Look for stories that are narrated, beautifully illustrated and packed with action, dialogues and interesting characters. Great examples will be the stories of life of Jesus, Buddha or Hindu gods.
3.Temples, Shrines – visiting temples, churches or shrines can be a truly Multi-Sensory experience. Such places often let visitors in, although you may want to check their admission times and requirements. Entering a religious temple may be a magical experience and there will usually be beautiful colorful paintings, decorations and statues, and the place will be filled with scents of flowers, incenses or even freshly cooked food. There may be offerings on the altar and instruments used during masses, rituals and celebrations. You may experience silence or, depending on the religion and tradition, quite on the contrary you may be invited to sing or dance along. Usually you will receive a warm welcome and you may also be guided around, shown special places, invited to try some delicacies, and receive a short explanation of some rituals and practices.
4. Meeting People – meeting people in your local area is the best way to be introduced to other religions and practices in the most natural way possible. Your child may already have friends who follow different religions, and may already be used to some signs of their devotion such as dietary practices, dress codes, etc. Spending time with other families, discussing things, visiting them and inviting them to your house will definitely help your children understand their choices better.
5. Apps and Games – in the era of mobile devices also Religious Education can be found in multimedia entertainment in a form of educational applications and games. You may need to spend some time looking for the right ones but you will defiantly find something for each of the main world religions that is worth your kids’ attention. There will be audio books, interactive story books, mini-games or video applications where you child can learn about religions, main events and characters by interacting with the content, completing missions, solving puzzles or watching videos. Apps are often multilingual and they are perfect if you would like to offer your child an opportunity to learn more about your own religion, or to raise their awareness of others.
Donkey Ollie by Aglaia Software is a good example of a multimedia app that includes a great collection of animated video stories which introduce children into Christianity. The whole series is a musical show so each episode is packed with songs and dance – all professionally performed. Donkey Ollie is based on a popular children’s character who takes children on exciting adventures where each of them evolves around Christian values and positive messages presenting Biblical stories and the life of Jesus. The episodes are divided into focus groups that cover ten parts of the Lord’s Prayer, God’s personality, the 10 commandments and the Miracles of Jesus. Each story is seen through the eyes of a donkey called Ollie, a reflective creature who thanks to his positive personality and heart qualities is adored by children.
Donkey Ollie can serve as an extension to your child’s Religious Education. It can be a great introduction to Cross-Religious Education, but because it portrays lives of people and the world in general from the historical and geographical point of view in the time before Jesus and during his preaching, it can be used as a good tool for Cross-Curricular Education.
The app can be downloaded for FREE on Google Play
Photo courtesy of [nenetus (main photo), hin 225, toa55, rawich, sritangphoto, Avrind Balaraman] at freedigitalphotos.net
Photo courtesy of [hin225,