Play is an important part of children’s development. Play helps children to learn and gives them confidence. There are a number of hadith that illustrate how the Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) would have fun with children, for example Ibn Abbas said:
“The Messenger of Allah (S) was carrying Hasan bin ‘Ali (as), when a man said: “What an excellent mount you are riding, lad.” “What an excellent rider he is,” the Holy Prophet (S) replied” (Al Tirmidhi).
Children learn through their senses, and touching, seeing and hearing are all incorporated into the My Salah Mat: touching the touch-sensitive buttons around the edge of the mat; seeing the vibrant colours and the position of the feet, hands and nose; and hearing the My Salah Mat recitation of the prayer, Quran and dua. This is a form of sensory learning, and it is far more likely to have an impact than bland explanations. Using fun ways of teaching and learning helps children to concentrate and become absorbed in what they are doing. Moreover, it is especially important for younger children to enjoy what they are doing, as this will keep them focused and willing to learn.
We often see children happily talking away on a toy phone, or sitting on a chair pretending to drive, and such activities have been linked to intellectual development. The My Salah Mat is a similar concept, as it encourages children to carry out the actions of the prayer from a young age, along with providing the essential information they need as they grow. In addition to providing children with such resources, it is essential that we set a good example, as children learn through copying. Patience is often required, as children do not always behave in the ways that we would expect, and this is exemplified in the following hadith: The Messenger of Allah came out to us for one of the two later prayers [Dhuhr or Asr], carrying Hasan or Hussein. The Prophet (SAWS) then came to the front and put him down, said Takbir for the prayer and commenced praying. During the prayer, he performed a very long prostration, so I raised my head and there was the child, on the back of the Messenger of Allah, who was in prostration. I then returned to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah had offered the prayer, the people said:
“O Messenger of Allah! In the middle of your prayer, you performed prostration and lengthened it so much that we thought either something had happened or that you were receiving revelation!” He said: “Neither was the case. Actually, my grandson made me his mount, and I did not want to hurry him until he had satisfied his wish" (Reported by Nasaa'i).