Jehova Witnesses / birthdays?(37 Posts)
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Sorry for asking work questions during holidays - Scottish schools are back this week so end of hols for me I’m afraid!
NQT looking for some advice.
I have a class with several JW children this year. I planned to make birthday cards and planned to celebrate birthdays in class (just with a card/ song) before realising that the JW children can’t join in.
Did you just ignore birthdays altogether?
Is there a work round I am missing?
Obviously the first thing I need to do is learn how to spell Jehovah 🙄
I’d just check with their parents. They won’t mind being asked and you will get brownie points for being considerate.
I never had more than one at a time so a TA used to take them on an errand while we did birthday stuff. Having a few means your TA (assuming you have one) could do a group activity somewhere else, different songs or a story maybe.
I’ve got family who are JW and my experience is that they are militant about birthdays and the non celebration of them. That said, it’s the parents not the kids, the kids normally want to just blend in. If you can I would ask the school what it’s policy is and if you can, the individual parents how they want it handled. Christmas will be a similar issue but different JW families approach it differently.
If there are a lot of JWs at your school there may already be a protocol for this, also Christmas etc, so ask your HT or mentor about this.
Disclaimer - not a teacher - my best friend in primary school was a JW and she left the classroom and went to the library to read during anything Christmas related, and just politely turned down birthday treats/birthday party invites. It wasn't a thing to celebrate birthdays in class when I was at school, I don't believe it is these days either, my DD just takes in cakes or little presents and it's given out by the birthday child at the end of the day so the parents can decide if they can eat the cake or whatever. Given that you have several JW kids I would think that was the most sensible approach so they don't feel left out.
The parents are usually obsessive about birthdays not being celebrated. I'm my class we couldn't even give them stickers or certificates as it celebrated success 🤔😳
I would check but usually it's a huge no go and they may be offended you even suggested it
Or you could think of it this way - they’re sending their children to mainstream schools, so they have to expect that their children will do mainstream school activities. You don’t have to work around this stuff.
I think she does have to work with it, as part of general non-discriminatory approaches.
Do you need to do birthday things at all? It's a bit shit for those with August birthdays, or any dates that are normally in a school holiday (close to Christmas or Easter) as they only get a card weeks away from the actual day, and it's really not the same. Add in a handful of non-celebrants, and it's probably better to have different activities.
(I don't remember any of my DC getting a birthday card, or having a celebration class).
OP also discuss with head so s/he (you may be it) can notify Governors. Having more rather than just one might work in your favour since it's worth a staff member taking three or more rather than one out of the class announcement. I second the person who suggested talking to the JW parents and also reading up on JW beliefs. Good luck with the new term.
I was a JW as a kid, the exclusion at Easter and Christmas absolutely sucked and I would have hated everyone getting to have their birthdays while I got left out yet again. I probably would opt for not doing this.
DP grew up as a witness, and hated being removed from stuff, hated being 'different' and hated not being allowed to celebrate birthdays, Christmas or Easter. It is totally militant. The parents may be really nice about it, but it is exclusionary in the extreme.
In contrast, in my very multi-cultural school, where I usually have pupils from 4 or 5 world faiths in class, everyone is quite relaxed about each other's celebrations, and we often participate cross-faith in different pupil's religious festivals, with the full approval of parents who understand and appreciate diversity and cohesion.
The children may well hate it but the JW parents have the right to remove their children, it isn't the teacher's fault. It's very inconvenient and I felt bad about it too but going the other way and not letting the non JW children celebrate birthdays etc would be wrong too. I never met JW parents who tried to influence what the rest of the class did, they were only concerned about their own children.
Hmmm, a mixed bag then.
Given I don’t have LA to take kids out of class, I think i might need to give birthdays a miss then.
I’m at inservice tomorrow so will take some advice from my mentor about what’s been done in the past.
Always just check with the each parents of child. Different ones may still eat a cake/have sweets given out others may not feel comfortable with that. They definitely don't want to stop the class from celebrating birthdays or other celebrations as that is down to everyone elses personal beliefs.
Celebrating birthday doesn't have to take place at school though, I know some parents will send sweets in but I haven't known teachers to do cards or sing.
It’s really common to invite the birthday boy/girl to the front of the class and sing happy birthday banjo. Most children will be used to that happening. That’s just to say that it has to.
some parents will send sweets in but I haven't known teachers to do cards or sing.
It's very common in Early Years. Not so much cards but it might be part of a special topic.
I spoke to the teacher who had the JW children last year and think I have a solution (in case anyone cares, or the someone searches for the same question).
We will make birthday cards as a class, the JW will make friendship cards for each other, other children will make birthday cards for each other, to be given out on their birthdays.
Singing happy birthday in class is fine, JW children can be in class but not sing.
I think I’ll have a chat with JW parents as it seems like some are ‘stricter’ than others with their expectations and to make sure we get off on right foot and know what’s what.
Thank you for all the advice and opinions, they’ve been very helpful.
You sound very reasonable in wanting to work with everyone.
One question though out of interest...what kind of fuss or special treatment will the kids whos birthdays are in the school holidays get? Or will they be part of the "friendship" card gang?
Hmm, I don’t actually have the DOB yet cos office staff weren’t in today, I will see how big an issue this is and think about how to manage this.
Maybe do card before holiday for those near beginning. Maybe post a card to their home during holiday. Not sure.....
OK so I'm my naive world I've never comw across JW children in my 25+ years of teaching. I had no idea They can't celebrate their birthday? I understand Christian celebrations but birthdays...?
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