I have the sweetest young man in my class this year who is a Jehovahs Witness...
I certainly don't want to have him do anything that would go against his and his families beliefs. So my question is, for those of you who have had Jehovahs Witness's in your class before... what did or didn't they participate in?
I have a few in my class this year. Don't have much experience with it so far. They will not say the Pledge of Allegiance. They do not celebrate birthdays nor holidays. The parents of mine say that the first graders know what they can or cannot do. If you are in doubt, ask the parents if they will allow or not allow their student to participate. I asked one of my parents about eating a birthday treat another student brings in. She said that it was okay for her daughter to have that so she wouldn't feel left out. I told the mom that we weren't going to make a big deal out of the birthday (not sing). Just eat the treat, say happy birthday, and thank you. Ultimately, it all depends on the parents and how strict they are and their viewpoints on how they raise their kids.
As the PP said, every JW family is different. Please call the child's mother and ask her to put in writing how she would like you to handle certain situations: birthday parties, holiday celebrations, etc.
One of my past JW students had to *leave the room* when we celebrated bdays , but another one was allowed to eat the treat, just couldn't sing the song.
And I'll never forget driving by one of my JW students' houses one December and seeing a fully lit CHRISTMAS TREE in their window! The mother told me that it wasn't a "Christmas tree", it was just a pretty winter tree that they decorated with lights.
a few Jehovah Witness students. Holidays were out of the question, so we would have other "special days." Instead of a Halloween party, we had Egypt Day, where we learned about mummies and the pyramids. For Christmas, we had a winter celebration and made crystalized snowflakes. So, we still had a good time, and didn't break any "rules."
I once I had a student's mother so strict that she took offense and yelled at me several times. Don't get me wrong, I tried my best to accomidate her child's needs and not go against his beliefs, but occasionally I had to do what was best for the rest of the class and would have the Jehovahs Witness student do something different.
Anyway, I send home nightly reading books, I forgot to check the books and accidently sent home books about Mother's Day & Father' Day one week. She not only sent me a lengthly letter about what I had done wrong and call me about it, but she WROTE ONE THE BOOK that her child would not be reading it!
I am sure she is the exception and not the rule... but talk to parents!
In my experience, they don't celebrate any holidays, say the pledge of alliegance or celebrate birthdays.
We have a HUGE Polar Express Party/activities, etc. the wk we get out for X'mas, and our little girl was picked up early so that she wouldn't have to sit out in the hall while the whole grade level did these things.
(A neighboring teacher put her in the hall with a book to read...personally, I think that was inappropriate, so I was glad to see that her mom decided to just come pick her up. If there was no other choice, I sometimes would allow them to go to another teacher's classroom (younger age) and partner read or be the teacher's helper in that room)
I had one a few years ago that started out the year REALLY strict about it, then when more birthdays started coming around, and more holidays, the child was allowed to participate...
So, it just depends on the family. I would ask specifically what he/she will NOT be allowed to do in school.
I've had several Jehovah's Witnesses in my classes over the years. In my exprience, the parents have been very helpful. They have let me know at the very beginning of the year what activities their child may and may not participate in. They haven't expected me to alter the curriculum or its delivery to accomodate their religion. So far, none of my JW kids has had to sit out on birthday celebrations, but their own were not celebrated.
The JW children seem to have a good grasp of what they may and may not do. They will most likely let you know if there's an issue. A few years back we had an all-school assembly that featured a "Math-Magician". My JW student told me that he wasn't allowed to participate in anything with magic, so he had an alternate activity.
I used to alter my usual "Halloween" activities and make them "Fall" activities for my JW student. However, in my district there are so many families that don't participate in traditional American holidays that Halloween and Christmas have pretty much been replaced by "Fall" and "Winter" celebrations anyway.
Thanks for the replys thus far. I was thinking about send a note home, very professional in inquiring as to what they would and would not prefer he participate in. I just want to be very respectful of others beliefs and I don't want to offended. I just didn't know if they would be offended or not if I sent a brief note inquiring about it.
I have had a Jehovah's witness in my classroom. I don't mean any disrespect, but I guess I just feel like some of the things they don't participate in are just tad extreme. My student couldn't participate in Veteran's Day, Veteran's Day,my gosh. What an awful thing to celebrate our fellow Americans who serve our country whose foundation is supposedly built on the foundation of God. I better stop before I decide to go off. This student was very bright, and very sweet, it just made classroom activities difficult at times.
Have you sent any kind of parent survey home yet? I'm planning on doing one that will give parents an opportunity to tell me anything they think is important to know about their children (including things that are against their relgious beliefs). That way I know where everyone stands from the first week.
I'm going to have a J.W. in my class for sure this year - but i'm still planning on doing a birthday graph during the first week. Everyone has a birthday - no matter if you celebrate it or not.
I agree that most families are very accomodating and do not expect the rest of the class to change their beliefs in order to respect theirs. That is exactly what they are asking us to do...respect their beliefs by not asking them to participate in celebrations or "false symbols" they don't recognize.
Holiday celebrations (Fall Party, Winter Party) are still celebrated for the majority of the class. A Jehovah's Witness may be given alternate activities...instead of a paper with ghosts he/she is given a sheet with Autumn leaves.
We also insist that the children stand for the Pledge even if they don't say the words. Standing is more out of respect to the people in the room and (the young men and women who are sacrificing their lives in order for all of us to practice our individual beliefs).
I am the first grade teacher in my school that has had all of the Jehovah's Witness children and everything has worked out just fine. As mentioned in previous messages, birthdays and holidays are not celebrated. My families have sent in extra snacks at the beginning of the year for their child to have when there are birthday treats. Basically anything patriotic is not acknowledged either...Memorial Day, Veterans' Day, the pledge, etc. The parents have been very assuring that their child will know what they can and cannot do and I certainly do not need to go out of my way. On a sidenote, these families have been the most appreciative parents I have EVER had. Enjoy the sweetness!
I had a lovely little girl join my class at the end of the year last year (she'd been homeschooled for the rest of the JK year). Her mom was very open and so was I - I just told her that this faith was outside my area of experience and asked her how to make her and her daughter feel at home. She was very relieved (maybe it was harder with the first child?). We try to talk about upcoming events before they happen in the class. She opts out of singing O Canada (it is a bit hard for me but the last thing I want is a child to know that) and birthday celebrations (loot bags, singing the birthday songs). Mother's day was not a problem, however. We just talk about it before it comes and that way I don't make any offensive mistakes. (I think if I ever do, she'll take it as an honest mistake and not an insult...) Now she'll be an SK so I will have to work around Halloween.
It's a bit hard, though, because I celebrate EVERYTHING. In winter we do Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, etc. Any excuse to decorate!
When I had a JW student I made up a Reading Around the World passport for her. While we "traveled to other countries" to learn about how they celebrated Christmas and other holidays, she went to kindergarten rooms and read a story to them and explained what first grade was like.
She was doing something similar to the other students like getting a passport and going to different rooms but it didn't conflict with her beliefs. The parents were on board with this.
I suggest you ask the parents what they allow him to participate in. Ive never had any JH in my room, but I did have a real smart Christian girl a few years ago in first grade that debated with me why she thought jack-o-lanterns were demonic. I did remove it to make her comfortable. I actually found it rather cute coming from a 6-yr. old. My daughter has a playmate who is JH and her mom allows her to participate in some activities, so I think you should ask the family.
The JW parents I have had, have been terrific. There is a booklet in the cum file and I asked for another one to have on hand,and the mom was tickled that I did. The sweet little girl felt a bit left out at times, but that was when others talked on the playground about an upcoming birthday party, or something like that. I made a point of not doing birthday things this year. We celebrated Black and Orange day instead of Halloween, Friendship Day instead of Valentines Day. If we were doing a specific thing that she could not participate in (ie, Christmas concert rehearsal) she just grabbed some of her favourite books and read, but not removed from the room.
When my son was younger the school had a policy that if the student was not going to participate in a celebration, the student was sent to the library to read, do work, or play academic computer games. If parents preferred, they could pick their child up early. Like previously said, the parents were very cooperative and their relationship between the school and home was wonderful. I would talk with the parents and then double check with the principal if you plan to send the student out of the class.
Over the years I've had several JW children. Several have given me a pamphlet about teaching JW children so you may want to ask your parent if they have that pamphlet. I've had several mention no blood transfusions on their health cards and I did have one student whose parents didn't want her in the class when we talked about blood transfusions in health. When I give my kids treats (Halloween, Christmas, etc.) I package the treats for my JW kids in "generic" bags so they can have something too.
I've had several JW in my classes over the years. They request me because I've been accomodating to their children without embarassing them or excluding them. I think you should just talk to the family because some are more strict than others. The JW faith has booklets available for teachers to read about what they believe. The family should be able to get one for you.
This is the first year in a few that I will not have a JW child in my grade 2 class. I have never experienced any difficulty with the parents. They are very open at the beginning of the school year and I assure them that I will always have something different for their child to do. Any party we have for holidays is announced and the parents usually pick up their child before it starts. I am a Canadian teacher and one of my Social Study units is on Traditions and Celebrations. I discuss this with the parents telling them that it is a comparison of celebrations and traditions from different cultures. As it is a learning experience they do not feel there is anything wrong with it. I usually start this before Christmas so we see a variety of celebrations such as;
Hannakah, Dwali, Kwanza, Christmas. I usually do it with the theme of Lights. The week before Christmas holidays start the JW kids stay home with some books to read and a reading journal, and math calendar. This way my other students can go Santa crazy. I also try and do a concert idea that could be for any drama or dance activity so they can rehearse with us even though they do not take part in the actual concert. Birthdays are not a problem as we don't celebrate each childs birthday as such. I make a birthdate graph at the beginning of each year as we all have a birth date.
This is the first time I have taught a JW child and I am finding book selection difficult. I simply had never thought about how many books for this age group contain birthdays, Christmas, tooth fairies or other magic. These books have been chosen because most children love these themes and I want them to get as much enjoyment as possible from reading. My little JW pupil is an excellent reader, even though she is only just six years old, and finding books that her mother deems acceptable is a mine field. Does anyone know of some exciting and reliably appropriate authors for her?