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to not want my 3 year old pray in nursery

(111 Posts)
ChipmunksInAttic Tue 25-Oct-16 13:16:56

A little background: we are living in the UK for last 10 months or so. both my husband and I are not believers and actually have a distance to all religions, though we both have muslim background - we were raised in a muslim country.

DS who is 3 years old started pre-school a month ago. When we were having dinner last night, he asked me aren't we going to "put our hands together", which is what they do at preschool before their lunch apparently. Today just to make sure I asked the school what does it mean and they told me they are having a little prayer before lunch just to say thanks for the food.

This is an independent nursery and at the beginning we had stated that we don't want any kind of religious education however I am not sure how to handle this now. We kindly asked them to exclude DS from praying, but I don't think this is doable while all kids are doing the same thing.

Maybe there is no harm just saying thank you for the food, however I cannot really understand why they are doing this with just 3 year old kids. We want to raise our child with no religious doctrines until a certain age but is that even possible? Or is this just a cultural thing and we are overreacting?

MyGiddyUncle Tue 25-Oct-16 13:20:14

I think you'll probably struggle.

My dc are in a state school in Wales...not specifically CofE/Catholic, but all the classes do assembly and end of day prayers. It's a prayer song for the youngest classes, which is nice IMO.

Most schools I know of (and i've visited quite a few for work reasons) have some kind of prayer or prayer song daily.

TruJay Tue 25-Oct-16 13:26:15

I feel the same as you, DH and I are non-believers yet he comes from a super religious family. I'm of the stance that people can believe whatever they want just don't preach to me or rub it in my face.
I don't want my children praying to anyone as it's just not what we do at home, it's confusing for them. They may choose to when they're older but that's for them to decide when they're old enough to do so.

MIL is always forcing religion on our dc, when DS was two she said he would go to hell if he didn't believe in Jesus! hmm she's forever buying them children's bibles etc I actually find it really rude and wonder how she'd feel if I gifted her a book in satanic worship, Torah scrolls or a Quran. She wouldn't bloody like it so don't know why she does it to us?!

I understand that holding hands to pray before lunch is harmless but I don't think a non-religious child should take part. They don't believe in it so it shouldn't be done.
I don't think you're being unreasonable.

noeffingidea Tue 25-Oct-16 13:27:35

This is unacceptable. Prayers for 3 year olds? What even is the point?
I'm not sure how I would handle this , tbh. I suppose it depends on how strong your own religious beliefs are and how far you feel this interferes with the way you wish to introduce your son to them. As an atheist myself I had no qualms in telling my children it was just stories and they could ignore it all.

noeffingidea Tue 25-Oct-16 13:31:10

Sorry, OP. I just read that you have no religious belief yourself. In that case I think you're entitled to tell your children not to join in any prayers or religious observances.

JoJoSM2 Tue 25-Oct-16 13:35:58

is it some sort of RC/CoE nursery? If not, then I would defnitely complain.
If it is a religious place, then tell your son that other children do it but he shouldn't/doesn't need to. I'd also speak to his teacher to remind them that you don't want religious encorougement for him.

ChipmunksInAttic Tue 25-Oct-16 13:38:51

JoJoSM2 - it's an independent nursery.

babyapril Tue 25-Oct-16 13:40:57

I don't think it matters. You can never say "Thanks" too much for food .
I don't think it is one of those things you can afford to get worked up about.
There are going to be so many things thrust upon your child - that you might not like.
We pray at our school as it is a church school. Most of the families are not religious.

babyapril Tue 25-Oct-16 13:42:10

I've just seen it is an independent.
I think you will make it harder for your child if you ask for him to to be left out. All his friends will be doing it.

exLtEveDallas Tue 25-Oct-16 13:42:19

Well if it's a nursery attached to a CofE school that's not unusual, the kids at our school do it as a sort of song before having their lunch. It stops in KS2 though. I believe that all schools have to have an act of worship though, so you may struggle to find one that doesn't.

If it's an independent nursery that you are paying for then I would look to move him - I wouldn't want my child to be 'singled out' by his peers

Oysterbabe Tue 25-Oct-16 13:42:47

I wouldn't be happy with this.

Applecarts Tue 25-Oct-16 13:51:09

I think that's pretty poor. It never happened at nursery for us - DH and I are atheists from devout Catholic backgrounds who don't want DS to have a religious upbringing, and are very impatient with organised religion, as anyone who grew up in Ireland when we did would be -- but now that DS is in reception in the village school (C of E, no alternatives for miles, plus I gather there are in fact no purely secular schools), they do grace before meals and assembly prayers. I knew this would be happening, having asked, and as it's a C of E school (though with a big Hindu and Muslim intake, as it's an highly-rated school close to the edge of a very racially diverse city), I thought I was reconciled, but I don't like that DS is coming home obsessed with God and talking about it all the time - because his beloved teachers say it, it must be true. (We've always gone the 'some people believe' route, but he thinks God is real because his teacher says so.)

I'm hoping it will tail off once the novelty wears off.

ChipmunksInAttic Tue 25-Oct-16 13:51:50

MyGiddyUncle -
"My dc are in a state school in Wales...not specifically CofE/Catholic, but all the classes do assembly and end of day prayers."

That's another concern for us... He'll start reception next year and we live in the catchment area of an outstanding infant school but it's CofE. Can't decide which one is better - very good but religious school/less good but less religious school smile

JoJoSM2 Tue 25-Oct-16 13:56:36

Independent or not, it can be either religious or not. If you send him to a CofE school there will be a lot of praying, masses and he'll be immersed in religion daily. Also, preference is given to religious children so being close to it, does not mean he'll get in.

Wrinklytights Tue 25-Oct-16 13:56:36

Yanbu. I hate religion being promoted in school.

ChipmunksInAttic Tue 25-Oct-16 14:00:02

"I think you will make it harder for your child if you ask for him to to be left out. All his friends will be doing it."

I really don't want to do that... he's already left out a bit, because he can't speak English very good yet.

seminakedinsomebodyelsesroom Tue 25-Oct-16 14:01:21

No you are not being U at all. That's shocking and not at all acceptable in an independent nursery.

On the school thing. One of my DC has had to go to a CofE school. I absolutely hate it.

Floggingmolly Tue 25-Oct-16 14:04:38

What is "shocking" about being thankful for the food you're about to eat, semi? That's all it'll be; they won't be saying decades of the rosary or talking in tongues...
Hardly worthy of actual shock.

Gwenhwyfar Tue 25-Oct-16 14:09:50

I can see the obligation for collective worship in Welsh schools disappearing in the next few years

Applecarts Tue 25-Oct-16 14:10:28

Because they're thanking an imaginary sky fantasy father-figure for the food, rather than the dinner ladies or whoever made lunch? Rather than being grateful in the abstract for the luck that gives them a roof over their head and enough to eat?

If you send him to a CofE school there will be a lot of praying, masses and he'll be immersed in religion daily. Also, preference is given to religious children so being close to it, does not mean he'll get in.

That's not our experience of reception at the C of E primary which recently had a diocesan inspection which said it had a 'good Christian character'. They sing a little song for grace, have some kind of prayer at occasional assemblies, and have been taken to the village church for a Harvest festival. As I said above, I'd far prefer this wasn't happening at all, but in fairness, there's zero sense of religious 'zeal', and about half DS's reception class are from Hindu or Muslim backgrounds.

toastymarshmallow Tue 25-Oct-16 14:11:40

The UK education system is not secular. Unless it has changed recently, by law Head Teachers have to follow the governments guidelines on religion in schools. Saying grace, singing hymns in assembly etc is all part of it. Following a Christian ethos.

This is in ALL schools, not just specific religious schools.

I contemplated making my DCs sit out of these activities, but decided that I didn't want to separate them, so I used it as the basis of a conversation about different people's beliefs and how we must be respectful. And a conversation about making up our own minds.

Cherrysoup Tue 25-Oct-16 14:12:33

I'm amazed. If it's non-denominational, there should be no collective acts of worship, which this constitutes. No harm in being thankful for food, but this sounds like prayers as opposed to giving thanks.

EweAreHere Tue 25-Oct-16 14:12:42

Indoctrination. Ugh.

But you've chosen and independent school, and sometimes that's what you get.

IF it was a state school, not a Church of England state school, you could and should rightfully complain and make them stop.

Liiinoo Tue 25-Oct-16 14:12:57

I agree that giving thanks for food is harmless. It is common to all religions across the world.

I think you are fighting a losing battle in trying to stop your child being exposed to Christianity. Even though the UK is becoming increasingly secular, it is still a historically Christian place and Christian beliefs and traditions are present everywhere as are many other religions. LImiting their exposure to religious belief and traditions is limiting their exposure to culture and history.

I wouldn't worry too much about her being unduly influenced by religion. My DCs come from a Catholic background and went to Catholic schools. Their knowledge of the Bible and the faith they were raised in is extensive but at the moment (in their 20s) they are non believers. Educated young people grow up to think for themselves regardless of early influences.

danadas Tue 25-Oct-16 14:15:46


I have no problem with my children learning about the different religions but if I wanted them praying I would have chosen a religious school.

If it is about thanks, then there are more appropriate people to thank than an imaginary character.

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