This article was written by Jeddah Mom for My Salah Mat.
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Inside: Age by age guide on how to encourage children to pray Salah naturally with gentle parenting techniques.
This post is sponsored by My Salah Mat– an interactive prayer mat that teaches children to pray in a fun way. You can read my review of the mat here.
I remember when I first became a mother, I couldn’t wait to introduce my child to Islam. Over the past 11 years, from praying with little babies on my lap to starting our eldest son on his prayer journey to watching my girls pray next to me, my husband and I have learnt so much about teaching children Salah.
I am sharing today an age by age guide that can help you understand the different stages the children go through in learning to pray. You can use this guide to help your children love and want to pray Salah naturally.
Towards the end of the post, I am sharing a very handy guide provided by My Salah Matthat you can print out for yourself.
AT WHAT AGE CAN MY CHILD START PRAYING?
No doubt, as eager parents, we want to start teaching children to pray salah as early as possible but we are commanded to start at the age of 7. That is when they will be really ready to ‘learn’.
If you are my regular reader, you will know how conscious I am that children should start the basic necessities of their religion from an early age. The obligatory prayers are the first step to ensuring that we raise our children right.
It takes years of training, reminding and encouraging before a child can form the habit to pray on time. We all know that it is not easy to form this habit to pray 5 times a day daily. Many amongst us still struggle to perform their prayer on time. How then can you teach a little child to mind his prayers?
SALAH FOR KIDS IS A JOURNEY
Teaching children to pray should start as early as possible and step by step; very gently, with as much love as you can give, coupled with modern teaching methods.
Islam is a gentle religion. Our Prophet (PBUH) taught with love and compassion. We should always remember this when we teach our own children. Don’t force anything, be as calm as is humanely possible and remember: they are just children.
We are directed to start calling a child to pray from the age of 7 years and then from age 10 we are to help them pray daily.
AGE BY AGE GUIDE ON HOW TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO PRAY SALAH.
While training our children, we have to remember their age and level of understanding before we guide them to the habit of praying. There is a reason why Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) commanded us to start from the age of seven. We have to remember this when we start to create that environment for daily prayer.
- Show your child from early on that praying is a way of life. I know how hard it is for us mothers to pray with a little baby. It is always a test that as soon as your baby has fallen asleep, the Adhan will sound. There have been numerous times when at Fajr, as soon as I got up to pray, my baby would get up for a feed and start crying. I am sure you have been in that situation too. We all go through it. At such a time, remind yourself that our children are but a test from our Lord. Pray with the baby in your lap or pray as soon as you can. Be persistent. Pray for ease. I found that it helped to pray with the Adhan. My babies would often watch with wonder when I stood up to pray. Lay your baby down next to you (or on your lap!) and pray. Take them to the mosque with you on Fridays, so they can hear the Adhan and prayer being performed. Babies who aren’t in the habit of hearing the prayer will develop anxiety or fear if once in a blue moon they suddenly hear the loud sound.
- From the age of 1-2 years. When they are a little older, they can sit next to you with toys while you pray. Toddlers need distractions because at prayer times they feel like they aren’t getting your attention so give them something that will keep them busy. You can get them their own little Musalla and head covering (scarf or cap) to wear. We bought our children’s first Musalla around age of 18 months. They loved to pick their mats and pray with the Adhan. But of course, I live in Saudi Arabia and next to a mosque so we hear the Adhan all the time. If you life in a non-Muslim country and don’t hear the Adhan as often then make arrangements so the children know the timings of the Adhan easily. Sometimes my children would be full of mischief whenever I started praying. So… I’d lock the door and pray in their toy room with them safely playing around me!
- From 3 years. Older toddlers learn very fast. Even if their speech is not much developed you can teach them small Duas and Adhkar. Teach your child to say the Adhan and the Iqamah (if they are little boys). Let them play ‘prayer’. This is a good time to introduce the My Salah Mat as children at this age love to imitate. My Salah Mat teaches little duas too. It has lots of keys that children love to press. Don’t think that your child doesn’t understand what is being said. They will understand and they will love it! It is a good idea to not give this toy all the time but mix things up lest they get bored off it. I always rotate my children’s toys. It keeps their interest and they make less of a mess.
- From 4-5 Years. Preschoolers have a great imagination. They love to play make believe and copy adults. Let them pray with you. Encourage them to lead their cousins or siblings or even soft toys, if nothing else. If you buy the My Salah Mat at this age, let them discover how to use it by themselves. They will enjoy pressing those buttons and hearing the duas on it. Teach them to do wudhu when they are around 5 years old.
- From age 6. Show them how to perform their prayer correctly. The My Salah Mathelped my 6 year old daughter in this. She doesn’t always use it but once a day, I have seen she wants to see how it is saying the Surahs and Adhkaar. I’ve also seen that children are very drawn to the Qirat of the My Salah Mat. My girls pronunciation has improved immensely. 5-7 is a good age for them to practice to pray as much as they can. No doubt prayer becomes obligatory only once the children are 7 years of age. That is the age when they are more willing to pray actually, so encourage it. You can let them use the Salah Mat to revise the correct posture while doing the sujud and ruku’.
- From 8-10 years of age, children will need to be often reminded to pray. You can get them their own adult size prayer mat and then use the prayer mat to discuss key issues. At this age children are very drawn to technology. The main reason they neglect their prayer is because they don’t want to leave their play to do something as ‘boring’ as pray Salah. I have found the My Salah Mat to be a very good tool for children at this age. It is like standing on an tablet literally. The mat has keys that can be pressed and when a child stands on it, it automatically starts the prayer. Children at this age enjoy using this interactive toy to pray. My daughter doesn’t turn it on for all prayers but just stands on it to pray without the sound too.
- From 10 years onwards, your child, if he is a boy, should be going to mosque. Girls can pray at home. Encouraging children to pray at this age can be a bit challenging because they are growing up and want to exercise their right to opinion. The best way to counteract this is to have clear rules in the household on what is expected of them and then help them in creating reminders so they don’t forget. Pocket charts and visual wall charts are all good reminders.
SUCCESS WITH MY SALAH MAT – FREE PARENTS’ GUIDE
Learning to pray Salah for kids is a gradual learning process. Our job as parents is to gently guide them and prepare them for life. My Salah Mat is an interactive prayer mat that helps you train your child to pray. They have created this very useful guide which is free for you to download.
Would you like to know how the My Salah Mat works? Here is the manual in PDF format explaining it’s various features.
My Salah Mat is a British product but they deliver worldwide. You can order My Salah Mat from their website www.mysalahmat.com or from mumzworld.com. Find more details on their site and Instagram page.