family religious beliefs and holidays

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by bethechange, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Mar 25, 2011

    So on my caseload for next year, I have a kid whose family are Jehovah's Witnesses. They don't celebrate birthdays or holidays and don't want their child to participate in any form of holiday celebration.

    I am totally cool with modifying some things - the other kids make christmas ornaments, he makes a craft. The other kids read a book about Thanksgiving, he reads a book about fall. No big deal.

    I do have quite a lot of teaching that centers around holidays though - especially Winter Holidays and birthdays. To me, those are normal parts of family social experiences and important for kids with ASD to be as prepared for as possible to help them participate and have fun. I don't teach any religious significance and cover a wide variety of holidays (christmas, hannukah, diwali, kwanzaa, etc).

    On birthdays - the birthday kid gets to bake a cake with me in the microwave and then we practice birthday party etiquette as we serve it, sing, make a card for the kid, blow out candles, etc. On Thanksgiving we cook a meal. In December, we have a holiday program for which we make all the decorations, food, and invitations for parents. We do the pledge of allegiance on the SMARTboard each morning. We put birthdays up on our calendar. On Valentine's Day we have a friendship party. I do want to respect the family's religious preference, but at the same time, all of those things I feel like are important for the other kids to experience, and I don't want to throw them out completely.

    Staffing is going to be really tight next year and I don't know that I will have a spare person or space to take this child out.

    What have you done in similar situations?
     
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  3. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Mar 25, 2011

    I had a Jehovah's Witness student in my class two years ago, and will hopefully have his little brother next year.

    If I recall, Jehovah's Witness has no problem with Thanksgiving or holidays like Veterans Day, Martin Luther King day, or President's Day. Their issue with Christmas and birthdays isn't really anything to do with religious dogma, but rather the idea of putting earthly and material things above God.

    I did not once have to remove him from the room for any occasion. He could be there during Christmas and birthday activities, he just did not participate himself. For example, he would remind me I didn't need to make a Christmas gift or craft for him. Also, he would never take a cupcake when a students mom brought them for their child's birthday.

    According to his mom, Jehovah's witness also teach tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others. For that reason, he was expected to handle being around other people celebrating Christmas and birthdays.
     
  4. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ Companion

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    Mar 25, 2011

    When I had JW students, we just skipped the pledge of allegience that year. Halloween parades meant that the kids had to be in the office and definitely no holiday crafts. They were such a nice family and kids but they were separated when it came to holiday or birthday celebrations. They raised loving and caring kids but in the back of my mind I always wondered if they felt left out. They also would bring me information and pamphlets about their religion.
     
  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Mar 26, 2011

    I've never taught JW students but I had one in my class in 6th grade. She would just sit out of certain activities either by going to the library or working at her desk (she had a full set of art supplies provided by her parents and would work on art at her desk). I would support accomodating the student but not at the expense of the other students. If a JW student wanted to sit out of the pledge than that is their right but I would not take it away from the other students.
     
  6. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Mar 26, 2011

    I have a good friend who is a Witness. She's pretty flexible. :)

    They do not celebrate any holidays, this includes Thanksgiving and other days honoring individuals. However, she is fine with having her children celebrate 100th day, or non-holiday/birthday related parties. Weddings and anniversaries are celebrated. :)

    I think the best thing to do is just ask the family. I would advise against singling one kiddo out, but that is just imho.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Mar 26, 2011

    I agree with this completely.
     

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