Part of the Teaching Your Child Salat series
I looked online for some guides that talk through the salat in order to teach my son all the steps, but I didn’t find the resources completely satisfactory.
Ultimately, I settled on using the same method that I used myself when I learned the prayer, a printout someone gave me shortly after I converted which has all the steps along with transliteration, translation, and pictures, plus some additional resources mentioned below. It was photocopied from a booklet, but unfortunately that is the only part of the booklet I have, so I don’t know the name of it to credit it here.
My search for resources to help teach my son the salat really highlighted the fact that there aren’t a lot of good resources for this out there geared at children that don’t have a computerized device in their hands. There are better online resources than when I was learning, but I was actually surprised that there weren’t more.
What I did find includes:
Prayer Cards – Creative Motivations (creative-motivations.com) has a set of laminated cards that show each step of the prayer (be prepared to replace the metal ring though: I used an old keyring I had handy). It doesn’t have all the extra optional bits from my printout, and I didn’t discover this resource until after my son had already learned salat, however I ordered one anyway. I like the idea that he can carry it around with him in the future as a reminder if I’m not there to guide him. (We also ordered their duas for kids cards and the short surahs cards. This last one I really recommend to build up your memorized surahs together after your child has learned salat! They have tons of great stuff–they sell on their website, and also on etsy–but sometimes their website doesn’t load that well for me. I should do a general review post for them at some point).
A website with step-by-step prayers (which I didn’t end up using for my son, but it’s still a good site, similar to the old CyberSalaat program): http://www.howdoipray.com/howdoipray/Home/. You can listen to all parts of the prayer, read along, and see how it corresponds to the movements and how the rakahs repeat. This is more geared towards older kids/adults who are learning on their own without an always-available instructor, but it’s still useful (especially if you need to work on your own salat as well as teaching your child). One thing the old CyberSalaat program which was along these lines helped me with was listening to the full prayer recitation while reading transliteration to help with pronunciation, as I had no-one to recite to me most of the time. Another was being able to see how the rakahs repeated for different lengths of prayer which I didn’t really understand that well at first.
4 different Salat coloring books, of varying usefulness. These ranged from general info about the prayer, to very much step-by-step instructions. I couldn’t find much about them before purchasing, so I just got several different ones to see what they were like, and I’ve given a brief overview of each below.
They’re fun to work through and they teach concepts about the prayer (like what the positions are called, something I never really focused on when I learned salat.. however, it’s useful when you are talking to your child about it because you have terms to use: sujood, ruku, etc.). The coloring books/activity books also go over various things like how many rakats in each of the prayers and when the prayers are said. The last one in the list also contains complete salat instructions. I think having a coloring book or two is helpful especially if you are the only other example person praying, because then it is coming from another source in addition to you. Also this is an activity your child can refer to and do at their own speed when it is not actually salat time.
- My Coloring Book of Salat by IQRA International Educational Foundation – This is a great first coloring book for small children, even before they are ready to “officially” learn the salat. It does not go through every step, but it has nice (simple) coloring pages for the times of each prayer (accurate), the names of the positions with simple references to some of the things said in different positions. This is good to familiarize children with salat and as a supplement to more specific resources. It was also the coloring book my son actually colored in the most and I think he learned the position names from it.
- My Salat Fun Book by Tahera Kassamali – This doesn’t tell how to do Salat, but it has activities, reading and questions about salat that are a companion to learning salat. It is however geared a bit older than the other books so it might be more engaging for an older child who isn’t that excited about coloring pages.
- Complete Salah Coloring Book by Azzizah Moore – This really is complete: it has step by step for every prayer including the full rakahs and all the positions (its a bit repetitive from that standpoint, the most instructional of the books). Also goes through wudu and adhan. Cute, manga-style illustrations. All the info plus coloring pages. I think this is the most comprehensive coloring book in terms of really showing all the steps and details; the other coloring books include useful/fun info about salat and the different parts and terms but I don’t feel they aren’t sufficient to learn every step. This could really stand alone if it were your only salat resource.
Madinah Salaat Fun Game also available directly from Goodword Books: This is a great game that I have to mention. It also includes a booklet with all the steps of Salaat (How To Pray Salat by Saniyasnain Khan) which could easily take the place of other printed instructional material as a stand-alone resource. The actual game has little facts about the prayer that you answer and learn as you move through the board: some questions are very easy, others are hard and obscure! There are multiple chances to answer for new learners (choosing another questions, etc) in case they only know the easy questions (though I do recommend playing the game after you have taught your child the basics of salat so it’s not too difficult), and there are challenging questions for adults too. It’s a good family game and it teaches a lot of supplementary info about salat and raises useful questions. One thing to remember about teaching salat is there are a lot of details (and optional parts of the salat that vary between people) that you can’t cover all at once, you have to start with the basics and then build on it and keep coming back to the details. This game is a handy way to bring up those additional details (real life situations are great too of course, like when you are out somewhere and have to make tayammum, but it’s still nice to have reminders).
Any or all of the above 4 options would work as a sole resource to teach the entire salat, so I encourage you to mix and match as you like and use what works for you and your child.
We also used these other supplementary resources:
- Some online videos from youtube showing salat. I didn’t find as much as I was looking for here, so these are only supplementary resources, not enough to learn from. One thing I was trying to find was someone reciting the entire salat, in part because Arabic is not my first language (or my son’s) and I know my pronunciation isn’t perfect. I eventually found a video of a kid reciting the entire salat, but now I can’t find it anymore (actually a lot of the original videos I showed him at the time aren’t up now). It was nice because it was the entire thing, and he was a kid, though, he just recited and didn’t do the motions at the same time. My son was very picky about reciters, also he preferred women and children reciters. If you think about it this is probably much easier for kids to copy with their voices than most of the male reciters you can find on Qur’an sites.
For actually learning new surahs after the basic prayer was memorized, we relied on sites that had recordings of specific surahs indexed, by a variety of reciters, rather than videos, but early on I was just trying to give him some examples of different people doing salat.The videos available will probably change so in addition just see what is out there when you get started. Here are some examples:
- Girl reciting al fatihah
- Boy reciting adhan
- Boy leading prayer (incomplete)
- This is an informational video about the 5 pillars of Islam in general which my son quite liked, it features a muslim boy explaining about the salat and the 5 pillars of Islam to his non-muslim friend. Not specifically about salat but it does mention that. Has 2 parts. From Discover Islam UK.
- There are also some cartoons about salat and how to make wudu on youtube from the “Zaky” and “Ali and Sumaya” characters (Zaky also has one about tayammum).
- There are a lot of other print-and-color salat activities you can find on pinterest if you would like to do more craft activities and “familiarity with salat” activities. My son was anxious to get right to it though so we didn’t end up doing a lot of these, though I always wish I had more free time for crafts.
It’s not necessary to use all of these resources, nor would I pull them all out on the first day. But they are nice supplements while going along and to research before you get to the time of teaching, if possible. I was a bit unprepared as I was originally planning to wait until my son was 7, but I wanted to take advantage of his enthusiasm! However, I found these other resources after we got going and added them in anyway–with more advance preparation you could have these in hand earlier for when the time comes. 🙂 But, the most important part is being there and going through the salat with your child!