Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
The exact dates of Ramadan change every year. This is because Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims won’t eat or drink during the hours of daylight. This is called fasting.
Children are not expected to fast until they reach puberty, usually around the age of 14.
Some families start encouraging children to start fasting from an earlier age so they can:
- Practise fasting
- Be part of the month
- Enjoy the celebrations with all the family
Parents do this in different ways and some will encourage their child to start with fasting half day, then progress to full days potentially on weekends, and then to full days on week days, while at school, and then to the whole month.
There is no hard and fast rule, but it would not be age appropriate to expect younger children, for example a 5 year old, to fast for the whole month of Ramadan.
This progression is over multiple Ramadan’s, this means it will take years to build up to the full month of Ramadan.
Most children complete a full month around 8-9 years old. This is dependent on the child, their health and the country. Summer has longer days so children may fast for the full month later than those fasting during the winter months.
As a parent of a school aged child you can encourage your child with fasting. But if they are struggling, give them breaks away from fasting as it is important that they get the nutrition they need for their energy and growth.
Health visitors or school nurses may ask about your family’s Ramadan fasting to ensure children are getting enough food and nutrition at the start of the fast day and at the end of the fast day.