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To think that watching a DVD of Jesus dying on the cross is age inappropriate for 3 and 4 year olds?

(28 Posts)
Rollercoasteryears Mon 01-Apr-13 08:58:35

Just to be clear, I have no intention of criticising what parents decide is appropriate to show their own child in the context of teaching them about their own religion.

But I was shocked on Good Friday when DS, 4, said at breakfast that the cross on the top of his hot cross bun was to remind us of Jesus dying on the cross. On further questioning, he said his nursery class had all watched a DVD about Jesus who was a kind man but some people didn't like him and they killed him. He said that Jesus had to carry his own cross up the hill and then they put him on the cross and he died. But it's ok, because he came back to life again.

I appreciate that I don't know exactly what they watched and it probably wasn't particularly graphic, but I think that, if things are as they appear to be from DS' description, then this was really inappropriate. My mother, who was the head teacher of a preschool for 30 years and has a teaching degree in early years education, was with us on Good Friday and was also shocked.

The main reason I have is that death is a hugely sensitive subject for small children. It is one thing to be told the story of Easter in reasonably non-detailed terms, preferably without images, but to watch a DVD of what happened, is far too vivid.

Also, I would like some reassurance that this wasn't taught as "fact" but in the context of introducing the children to different religious festivals and the idea that people believe different things in the world...

By way of background, this is a (generally fabulous) nursery class attached to our local primary school and it is not a c of e school. It draws its pupils from a very mixed background and I am guessing that less than half the nursery class is White British and/or Christian.

Should I ask for further details at the start of term and query the use of the DVD as an appropriate teaching method?

HollyBerryBush Mon 01-Apr-13 09:06:07

Depends on the DVD doesn't it? It's hardly going to be graphic, more story book with still drawings and a narration which wouldn't bother me in the slightest.

Death is only a sensitive subject if you treat is a taboo rather than talking openly about it.

LizzyDay Mon 01-Apr-13 09:08:58

It's not a natural death though, is it? No matter how gently it's described, you're still talking about a gruesome murder.

Sirzy Mon 01-Apr-13 09:11:07

Yanbu. The Easter story is one that children need to fully understand the concept of death before they can begin to understand and I think nursery age children are too young for the nursery to try to do that.

I also think the "coming back to life" is a confusing message to give children who are still at the age whereby things are taken literally.

HollyBerryBush Mon 01-Apr-13 09:12:46

I take it none of you ever have the TV on? Because every buggering thing I watch is full of fly blown children and Oxfam begging for money, or an NSPCC one - usually slap bang in the middle of a childrens programme. And you also shield your children from world events by never having the news on?

I realise that the current fashion is to be agnostic rather than following a doctrine which would account for the fact that no one ever seems to have a childrens bible in the house these days, full of gory pictures.

kim147 Mon 01-Apr-13 09:13:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sirzy Mon 01-Apr-13 09:16:10

The difference is Holly in those cases you can answer the questions that come up in an appropriate age range and children aren't being told that people will die and then come back to life.

I am christian and was in church with my 3 year old yesterday but I wouldn't expect him to be shown a DVD showing the Easter story in such detail (which if the childs explanation is right he was)

LizzyDay Mon 01-Apr-13 09:18:26

I understand that it is part of the NC in Reception (which is totally unnecessary imo) but, like tv watching, it should be up to parents whether their kids are talked to about murder at the age of 3.

AuntieStella Mon 01-Apr-13 09:19:56

Muslims have no difficulty with the Easter story - it's seen however as a miraculous event in the life of a major prophet rather than anything that tends to show divinity.

I never had a problem with the full story of Holy Week and Easter being taught to children (it is after all the major festival of the largest world religion) and the death of Jesus is an inherent part of it. But unless you think your children are too young to be aware of death at all, there's no particular reason to single this story out.

And by 3-4 I'd have expected children to have come across a number of fairy stories that include death, as well as numerous children's films (Lion King, Bambi etc).

malteserzz Mon 01-Apr-13 09:20:23

Is this an April fool ? It's Easter of course nurseries and schools are going to teach the children what it's all about ! It's not just about the Easter bunny and it's important that they understand that even if they are not Christian themselves

LizzyDay Mon 01-Apr-13 09:24:33

Death should be something that is first talked about to young children by their families, not nursery school. Especially if it involves gruesome murder.

SilentMammoth Mon 01-Apr-13 09:25:17

Meh, I'm really on the fence here, which isn't very helpful for you.

I think also as practising Christian I come from a different perspective, which may not be the same as for you iyswim?

Re, coming back to life, well, yes, I and millions of others believe thats exactly what Christ did, so no controversy there. That said, I do always make it very clear to dc that this was a once off, as it were. Also this does not really work if you do not believe in it! difficult one.

Would it be helpful to ask pre school for copy of dvd do you think?

Sirzy Mon 01-Apr-13 09:25:21

There are ways to teach these things though and DVDs aren't the way. A planned out discussion would be a much better approach than sitting children in front of a DVD. I hope the teacher at least allowed time at the end for discussion of things!

Sirzy Mon 01-Apr-13 09:26:45

Re, coming back to life, well, yes, I and millions of others believe thats exactly what Christ did, so no controversy there. That said, I do always make it very clear to dc that this was a once off, as it were.

As a christian that is what I believe, but I also know that my 3 year old wouldn't be able to understand that yet and I doubt most would.

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 09:27:35

It will have gone completely over his head. He will understand that Jesus died but he will not comprehend the detail of the bizarre industrial accident ( he was a carpenter nailed to two planks if wood, the irony)

My kids go to a religious school they go to mass and see a man nailed to an enormous cross every month or so when I can be bothered to rock up. the thing that puzzled them was why that man was wearing a nappy.
Bizarrely it's only when I looked through all the religious paraphernalia through my dh ( non religious) eyes that I was amazed that the only thing strange to them was that a man had a nappy on rather than the crown of thorns, blood dripping from his forehead, hands, feet and a gaping wound in his side.

It will go over his head and he will always remember the interesting fact about the hot cross bun.
I do hope they go through al the other gory religious stories Passover is a great gore fest.

LizzyDay Mon 01-Apr-13 09:30:31

Just because one child isn't bothered by reenactment of gory murder doesn't mean another won't wake up having nightmares about it though.

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 09:44:09

But most don't even notice though its the hot cross bun that they remember.

I think it's the same strange phenomenon that when they see another child fall over they just stare. I think that's one of the things that freaked me out about small children that we need to teach them empathy.

Once when looking after a class of small children one fell off a climbing frame they just stopped stared and carried on.
They were 4 years old luckily the kid bounced and was ok.
It was like a lord of the flies moment though freaked me out. Still weirdos me out now.

LizzyDay Mon 01-Apr-13 09:50:35

Agree about kid's lack of empathy, I think (if mine are anything to go by) that they would be much more concerned about being murdered and dying themselves.

MandragoraWurzelstock Mon 01-Apr-13 09:55:29

I agree with you OP. I hate the way this is taught at the school mine are at. Very graphic, very unnecessary and as though it is fact.

I do expect a bit of logic and reasoning from grown adults who are teaching my kids. None seems to be forthcoming on this topic.

MandragoraWurzelstock Mon 01-Apr-13 09:56:46

Fwiw I tell mine it is a story some people believe. My mother doesn't help, she is Catholic in the strongest sense and also blethers out the myths when they mention it.

I just bite my tongue and tell them later that grandma believes in something I don't understand.

Rollercoasteryears Mon 01-Apr-13 10:00:16

Thanks for your comments. That's a good idea to ask to borrow the DVD so I can see what he watched.

And HollyBerry, no I don't have the news on when the DCs are about, or the television in general. Other than cbeebies, live tv isn't on when they're around, precisely because of the risk of inappropriate news stories or adverts. My DS is very sensitive and worries about anything given half a chance (there are episodes of Octonauts he finds too scary!) so he hasn't seen the Lion King or Bambi or similar.

Which doesn't mean to say we avoid the subject of death, which we have talked about (at some length, after he got all anxious about it last year) but to me that's very different from watching images of someone dying.

DomesticCEO Mon 01-Apr-13 10:03:48

Really tricky one. My concern as others have said is the coming back to life bit - whether you want to believe it or not as part of your faith it is clearly not scientifically possible and would be hugely confusing for my 4 yr old who has recently had to deal with a couple of family bereavements and who is asking a lot of questions about death.

Thankfully he has not mentioned it so hasn't been an issue for us.

Rollercoasteryears Mon 01-Apr-13 10:04:06

Yes Mandragora, that's what I've said too!

SilentMammoth Mon 01-Apr-13 10:11:09

Roller, it sounds as if we parent in similar ways (no news and very limited tv). I do understand your concerns and I would personally have preferred this topic top be broached without a dvd, as there can be a huuuuuge variety in how the crucifixion is depicted!

It might have been a clip from the miracle maker. Probably wasn't anything not aimed at children.

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 10:17:16

My children are sensitive as well as loads of things will puzzle them and worry them. But they are more specific to them things such as octonauts and that owl thing that is always getting killed on cbbc.

Huge crosses with men nailed to them passes them weird

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