Holidays and Jehovah Witness

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by FriendshipTeach, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. FriendshipTeach

    FriendshipTeach Rookie

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    Dec 2, 2013

    Hi All...I know I found a post from earlier this year regarding having a Jehovah Witness in the class but I am still confused as to how to proceed.

    Here's some background.

    I have a student in pre-k that I just learned today is a JW. The family never informed me of this until this afternoon. On Halloween, the family brought the little girl to school and asked me if I was celebrating the holiday. I explained that I was not but that the day would be based around pumpkins. The family left the child but returned within an hour and chose to take the child home. He "forgot" that they had an appointment.

    Today, we began our monthly theme of holidays around the world. We began by discussing Hanukkah today. We also had a special delivery from the North Pole and an Elf on the Shelf arrived. In the past, I discuss Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. I've never had an issue before. During a discussion today, the child told me she didn't like Christmas. This seemed strange so I contacted the parents and this is when they told me that they are JW. I had my assistant explain (they speak a different language than me) that the class usually learns about all the holidays during this time. At first, the mother said that it would be fine for the child to hear about these topics but not to participate in any art or drama or singing activities. I conferred with my principal and she told me that each case is different and to follow through with what the parents want. When my assistant and I spoke to the parent again, she changed her mind and said that "it wouldn't be fair for her to hear about the holidays." Ultimately she wants me to not discuss any holidays in the coming weeks.

    Ultimately my question is this...how is it fair for me to change my teaching themes for one student? What about the other 18 who do celebrate holidays? How can I accommodate everyone...if I even can? I understand that I can adapt some activities to be "winter" instead but why do I have to put away my small tree and my menorah and my elf? It's just frustrating for me. Does anyone else understand my frustrations?

    Thanks for listening to me vent. :)
     
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  3. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Dec 2, 2013

    I don't necessarily think you have to change; especially if your teaching is focused on the "about" part of the holidays. In reality it wouldn't be fair to her to not know those exist! I would definitely be careful with any celebratory things though. Maybe she could go to another classroom, get computer time or something else that is still fun for her, but not a holiday celebration
     
  4. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    Dec 2, 2013

    Ditto to what HorseLover has already said. You shouldn't have to change everything, just provide some alternate activities for the student.
    I have a JW student and I ask her if she would like to participate in the activity we're doing or choose something else to do. When we did our Thanksgiving writing she chose to write about her family instead of one thing she is thankful for. What puzzled me is last week when we played Thanksgiving Bingo she chose to participate in that activity. The mother of the student gave me a gift of chocolate earlier in the year. One month she ate birthday cupcakes with us, but for Halloween she chose not to take a goodie bag home.
    I'm still trying to figure out of the student just prefers certain things over others. I just try to make sure she feels included like other students.
     
  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Dec 2, 2013

    I had a JW co-worker and she said that she liked to give gifts to people just not for "holidays". I also heard from others working in schools that some JW families will pick and choose things they will participate in. I guess it varies. I definitely wouldn't let the other students miss out on these lessons because of one student. Offer an alternate activity but don't go nuts.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 2, 2013

    The threads have been merged: there's a forum policy against posting the same thread on the same topic in more than one forum.
     
  7. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Dec 2, 2013

    I don't think it's fair of the parent to expect you to change for her child. :2cents:

    I was raised a JW, though no longer affiliated with it, and my parents never asked a teacher to change whatever it was they were doing to bend to my/our former beliefs. I sat quietly and respectfully while the teacher was talking about whatever it was I wasn't supposed to hear about and worked on an alternative assignment or read. During holiday crafts, I either did my own thing or worked on an alternative project the teacher provided.

    I find the varying degrees of "faithfulness" kind of amusing given my strict upbringing. We didn't attend school during any holiday or b-day parties. There wasn't any sitting outside while they sang happy b-day and returning to the room to eat a cupcake sans "happy birthday" ring. I got in trouble in 4th grade for making a teepee around T-giving because my parents construed it as a T-giving activity. To clarify - they weren't upset with the teacher, nor did the teacher think anything about it being misinterpreted to have anything to do with T-giving. I think we were studying Native Americans, or something like that.

    Maybe I should write a sticky thread over a JW in the classroom, lol.

    Beth
     
  8. FriendshipTeach

    FriendshipTeach Rookie

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    Dec 2, 2013

    Thanks for the responses. I apologize for writing in both threads. After I first posted I realized it would be better suited in the preschool forum.

    I just feel overwhelmed by this news. It wasn't what I was expecting and now I feel like I need to re-investigate my lesson plans for the next couple weeks. I just feel for the other children and don't want to deny them learning about holidays that they do celebrate. It'll be interesting to see what the parent says tomorrow when they drop her off.

    Thanks again for the advice :)
     
  9. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Dec 3, 2013

    Other children should not miss out on instruction for the sake of this child. In the future, this child will also be accountable for learning about everything in the curriculum and will be assessed on it.

    About your religious symbols in the classroom-are you in a public or private pre-k? I ask because I think public classrooms should avoid religious displays. Christmas objects with a token Menorrah really just make Hanukkah a Jewish Christmas. (Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday - Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the important holidays, to my understanding. )
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Dec 3, 2013

    Don't change your instruction or plan. Let the parent explain to their student why they aren't allowed to do fun stuff. Preschool is an important time to learn about holidays.
     
  11. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Dec 3, 2013

    I have had this experience. Leave the trees up and whatever other decorations you have up. It's no different for the child to see it in the classroom as it is to see holiday things everywhere else. Seeing these things is not celebrating the holiday.
    I would provide the child with a winter activity when the others are involved in a Christmas activity.
    The parents should be reasonable enough to work with you. If they are not, then I guess you have to take it up with you principal or director if you work in a private daycare.
     
  12. califlorican

    califlorican New Member

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    Dec 12, 2013

    I know it's been over a week since this has been posted in, but just because I thought the replies were interesting- you don't have to worry about decorations, as others mentioned. I would try to talk to the parents and ask them if providing activities for their daughter while the other kids hear about the holidays is acceptable. It most likely will be. (I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses and I did alternate activities like this from preschool all through high school).
     
  13. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Dec 13, 2013

    Over the years, I've had enough students who don't celebrate Christmas that I eventually stopped including holiday activities in my lessons.

    I'm not sure why it's important to cover holidays in school instruction. Does anyone have their students do coloring sheets or other activities for Ramadan or Yom Kippur or any of the other important days of other religions? (If so, kudos to you, especially if you're covering those days throughout the year, and not just when Christian holidays roll around.)

    I'm not criticizing holiday instruction, just saying that I hated the feeling that any of my students felt left out of classroom activities.
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Dec 13, 2013

    I hate the push for education to cater to a singular child instead of the majority in a room. I would not change my plans for the class. I'd have a couple of alternate activities for the child and that would be it.

    I've had parents (two) tell me that they did not want me to teach about evolution. It was against their beliefs and they did not want their child brainwashed. Nor did they want their child to be removed from the room while others learned about it. They just wanted me to drop it from the curriculum. Of course that did not happen and their children sat in their seats during the entire unit. If learning about holidays is part of your curriculum, you shouldn't even consider changing things around.

    In my experience, many JW pick and choose what they allow their children to participate in so it is hard to have a set rule for what you will do from year to year. I know a family that was very hard to predict with such things. Their son joined a Baptist church and would often have solos during worship. They would never attend to watch him sing. They refused to attend his wedding, even though it was held outside, because it was Christmas-themed. When he was a bit younger the young man walked three miles in the cold to attend a Christmas party at my house (we drove him back). His parents did not want him participating in the festivities (he was 17). Yet every year the father has no problem accepting the Christmas bonus that is given out at work. Christmas bonus, not holiday bonus, not end-of-the year bonus.
     
  15. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Dec 13, 2013

    I have taught several JW...The rule of thumb in my district is that if I tie the lesson to an art project or learning objective everyone participates. But if I am doing a Christmas fun project, I need a project for that child. I explain this in August when school starts if I know they are JW. In your case, I would send a note home explaining that these objectives will be taught. I look at it like this...I am Choctaw. Reading about the Trail of Tears is hard for me personally, but it is a part of history that I need to learn. While I never will be part of it, I need to understand it to understand my people. You don't have to participate in a "holiday" in order to learn about it. In order to have tolerance for others, I think you need to have understanding of them. So this child is just learning about how other's celebrate holidays.
     
  16. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Dec 13, 2013

    I do cover other holidays. I think it is important to develop an understanding of your "neighbor."
     
  17. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2013

    I have worked in many programs, and have taught and not-taught holidays based upon the program requirements. Without an opinion about how appropriate either is, I did find it easier not to celebrate or teach about any holidays.
     
  18. Gimet

    Gimet Rookie

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    Dec 14, 2013

    Same here! When I was in college, a professor asked the class what we were going to teach--it was a lecture hall with about 250 students, not one of us got the answer he was looking for. The answer was "children".
     

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