Halloween party at school- not OK with me. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As an Orthodox Jew, my family doesn't celebrate Halloween or Valentine's Day. I just found out that my son's 3rd grade classroom is going to have parties for those two occassions. I know the exact day and time of the planned parties because the PTA asked for parent volunteers to help with the parties. They're also planning parties for other occasions that I have no problem with, such as Thanksgiving and "Winter Holiday."

I do NOT want my child celebrating Halloween. The party is scheduled for Friday afternoon, October 29th, from 1:00-1:45 PM.

Should I keep him home on the 29th? Pick him up from school early so he misses the party?

And if I do keep him home or take him out early, should I tell the school why I'm taking him out or take him out for "an appointment"? I'm not sure how much of a stink I want to make over this.

ETA: For those of you coming into this thread late, the problem is solved. I told the teacher we don't celebrate Halloween, and I'll be picking him up from school before the party begins.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#2 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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I'd take him out without making a stink.

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#3 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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I'm am Christian, but I completely understand your concerns. I would probably keep ds home from school that day, or take him out for the time of the party to have some mother-son time. I think that most people don't think about the religious origins and significance to those holidays anymore, but that doesn't mean they aren't there! You could point this out gently to the school and maybe they could figure out a way to be more culturally sensitive or have more inclusive sorts of celebrations. Otherwise, a little extra time with ds could be fun.

Oh yeah, I wouldn't make an excuse like "an appointment." The school needs to know, but you don't have to make a stink over it.
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#4 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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Oh yeah, I wouldn't make an excuse like "an appointment." The school needs to know, but you don't have to make a stink over it.
I agree. Its pretty common for kids to get pulled out for reasons like this. Plus it then gives you and your kid an opportunity to talk about why you don't celebrate certain holidays. I would keep him out all day though if you can. That way he needs to do less damage control with his peers.
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#5 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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I would just call him in. I wouldn't lie and say he is sick or has an appointment, but when you call in to leave a message, you can say you prefer he not participate in the Halloween party, so he's taking the day off.

Our school's celebration is at night (as a halloween carnival) so it's a bit easier to miss than if it were during the school day. Anyhow, I wouldn't make a big deal out of it with the school, but I would feel comfy mentioning why he won't be there.

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#6 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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I would leave before the party and explain to your son and his teacher in simple terms why he is not attending.

1. it is important for the teacher to know so she can possibly adjust discussions/activities around the classroom diversity

2. so your son knows why he is leaving.

What did you do K, 1, ,2nd??


My preschool does not do Halloween, but does do Valentines day.

We do a Winter Celebration the second week of Oct.

I had Jehovahs Witness students in my classroom before, they left whenever we had any type of celebration (birthday, party, festival, etc.). We also had Islamic students that were absent frequently for religious holidays. I think it was wonderful for students to realize that other people celebrate differently!!

Areas tend to go with the 'majority' cultural celebration. In High School/Middle School we had all the Jewish Holy Days off due to the majority population celebrating these days. We had to move state testing due to it falling during religious holidays....we also had the Christian Holy Days off (Good Friday/Christmas Eve/Christmas) due to businesses areas also being closed. The area I taught in celebrated Kwanzaa and Juneteenth.

The area we live in has football practice at night during Ramadaan so that the students that fast during that time can still participate.

I would not make a big stink over it, but simply educate. MOST areas are moving toward a FAll Festival, Winter Celebration, Spring fair type activities to make sure that all children can participate and enjoy celebrating in some way!

Sllooooowly schools are teaching tolerance and acceptance of different cultural and religious practices. But it takes time and tends to vary by area.
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#7 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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Are there any other students that will not be participating? Do you know? I would talk to the teacher and find out if there are, and what protocol is for such things. They may have a plan in place. At my kids old school, there was at least one JW family and those kids would go to the library during that time and watch a video, or draw or something. You may want to see if that is an option. If not, and you end up taking him out early, or keeping him out for the day, I would absolutely tell them why. You don't have to make a bid deal of it, just be matter of fact. The main reason I suggest that is that most schools have a max number of days that a child can be absent and if s/he exceeds that then it has to be approved. If you use the ill excuse, later on, if he ends up sick and exceeds the number of days they have written into policy, you may need to get a doctors sign off. Also, letting them know may prompt them to develop a policy for kids who need to opt out of such celebrations.

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#8 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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You don't have to make a bid deal of it, just be matter of fact. The main reason I suggest that is that most schools have a max number of days that a child can be absent and if s/he exceeds that then it has to be approved. If you use the ill excuse, later on, if he ends up sick and exceeds the number of days they have written into policy, you may need to get a doctors sign off. Also, letting them know may prompt them to develop a policy for kids who need to opt out of such celebrations.
I agree. You don't have to "make a stink," just say that your family's religious beliefs prohibit your child from participating and you would like to know if they have a plan in place for such circumstances (like sending him to the library) or should you pick him up early.

My son's current school had 2-3 forms in the registration packet regarding permission for children to participate in parties, movies, and treats.

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#9 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What did you do K, 1, ,2nd??
He was in a private Jewish school for K, and a different private Jewish school for 1st and 2nd (in retrospect, I should have had him repeat K in the 2nd school because he's been struggling with work since 1st grade.) I homeschooled him last year for 3rd grade. This is his first year in public school, and just this week he was moved from 4th grade to 3rd grade (Mommy instinct told me he wasnt' ready for 4th grade, but he had to "fail" in 4th before the principal agreed with me and moved him into a 3rd grade classroom.) I'm not sure what the other class would have done (or not done) about parties, and I wasn't involved with this classroom for the past few weeks, so I couldn't be involved with organizing these parties ahead of time.

I didn't have any problems keeping DS out of school for Jewish holidays; that was a "no brainer" for me when we decided to use the public schools. But keeping him out for non-Jewish holidays just feels different to me. I wouldn't be keeping him home so that he could properly observe the holiday with the family; I'd be keeping him out of school for an entire day, possibly missing tests, just to avoid a 45 minute party?

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#10 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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I think you are well within your right to pull your ds out. As other pp's have mentioned, it's not unusual.

If you are worried that he would miss important instruction that day, I'd consider pulling him out at noon so that he only misses a half day. I'd just send a note that your family doesn't celebrate Halloween. Period.

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#11 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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I didn't have any problems keeping DS out of school for Jewish holidays; that was a "no brainer" for me when we decided to use the public schools. But keeping him out for non-Jewish holidays just feels different to me. I wouldn't be keeping him home so that he could properly observe the holiday with the family; I'd be keeping him out of school for an entire day, possibly missing tests, just to avoid a 45 minute party?
If he does miss tests, you can just have him make them up the following week. IME, at my kids' school, the days where they have parties or other forms of celebration are pretty low-key days. The are in a Montessori program, so testing isn't the norm anyhow, but I imagine they wouldn't be giving them on those days. But if your DS will miss something important that goes towards a grade, just talk to the teacher ahead of time and see if he can do it before or after the day he stays home.

I just realized our school is closed on the 29th - probably to avoid kids coming in wearing their costumes.

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#12 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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Could you take him out for a late mom-son lunch and return after the party? That way he doesn't miss much.

Our school does a Halloween family dance, but it is after school hours (4-7pm) so it is up to the families if they want to participate.
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#13 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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Could you take him out for a late mom-son lunch and return after the party? That way he doesn't miss much.
I think that's what I'd do, although I might just take him home so he's not sort of coming in when everyone's still got makeup on and is munching cupcakes or whatever.

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#14 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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I wouldn't be keeping him home so that he could properly observe the holiday with the family; I'd be keeping him out of school for an entire day, possibly missing tests, just to avoid a 45 minute party?
can you pick him up just for the duration of the party or ask that he be provided with something different to do in a different part of the school if transportation is an issue?

I think that, esp. for a child who has any issues with school work, missing a whole day of school when they really don't need to should be avoided.

I'm surprised they have a Halloween party. Our public school when to "fall festival" years ago. There are a lot of families that don't do Halloween.

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#15 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 07:18 PM
 
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The teacher has probably had other kids who can't participate in holidays and she will probably be fine with you taking your child out that day or even for just part of the day. Even if you don't take your child out they will probably have a few kids they are keeping out of the party because their religion isn't compatable with the holiday so it is worth asking. I work with a lady who is a Jehovah's Witness and she used to make special days for her kids out of the blue to help them feel loved and to help them not feel like their religion made them miss out on fun things. I knew another lady who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and her family allowed her to eat the junk food that was at the party but not actually be in the room participating in the party activities so her teachers came up with fun things for her to do during that time.
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#16 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it might be harder on him to miss JUST the party, and then resume when the party is over, having to explain to his classmates where he was, etc. It's also a lot harder on me to have to drive out to the school twice, especially on a Friday when I need to prepare for Shabbos, and especially around 1:30/2:00 PM when the girls are getting home from school.

I wonder if it's too late to change the party. Should I reply to the email asking for parent volunteers, and tell them that I have a problem with the party itself?

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#17 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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If it was me I would just keep him home from school or pick him up early. If you are nervous about tests just let the teacher know ahead of time why he will not be there and ask for any of his work for that day.
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#18 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 07:43 PM
 
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I would first find out if the school has activities for the kids who do not participate. I grew up on LI but now live in CO. Even we have many kids that did not participate in Halloween so there was a whole other activity planned for them - movie, story time, board games so it too is fun. If there is nothing like that I would just pick him up early enough to be home for your other kids. If I were the only one who didn't celebrate a "holiday" or activity I wouldn't ask the teacher to change things just for my child. I just wouldn't participate.
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#19 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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I think it might be harder on him to miss JUST the party, and then resume when the party is over, having to explain to his classmates where he was, etc. It's also a lot harder on me to have to drive out to the school twice, especially on a Friday when I need to prepare for Shabbos, and especially around 1:30/2:00 PM when the girls are getting home from school.

I wonder if it's too late to change the party. Should I reply to the email asking for parent volunteers, and tell them that I have a problem with the party itself?
I thought your one dd didn't get home until late? Either way, they are both old enough for you to be at school getting your son and them come home alone.
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#20 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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If it were me, I'd swing by the school and take my child out for lunch and ice cream.

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#21 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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I think it might be harder on him to miss JUST the party, and then resume when the party is over, having to explain to his classmates where he was, etc. It's also a lot harder on me to have to drive out to the school twice, especially on a Friday when I need to prepare for Shabbos, and especially around 1:30/2:00 PM when the girls are getting home from school.

I wonder if it's too late to change the party. Should I reply to the email asking for parent volunteers, and tell them that I have a problem with the party itself?
The public school ds was at last year had a policy that birthday parties and class parties took up the remainder of the day. Birthday "parties" were from 2:15 to 2:30; dismissal was at 2:45. This was so that these special events were not disruptive to the rest of the school day and so the teachers did not have to try and teach 20 children hyped up on sugar and/or excitement. So, if your school does not have such a policy, perhaps you could get them to change it.

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#22 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 08:55 PM
 
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I would take him home after lunch that day (or before lunch, and take him out for a nice lunch as a treat), and write a note to the school. I don't think that you have to "make waves," but I think that it's worth informing the school about the specific issues that you have. Most people who celebrate Halloween think that it's 100% secular, and have never heard of anyone having qualms with it being a Christian-rooted holiday. I think that it would be the polite thing to do to inform the school that this is not the case, and that you are not comfortable with your son celebrating Halloween. Hopefully it will give them some food for thought for next year.

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#23 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 09:08 PM
 
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I would leave before the party and explain to your son and his teacher in simple terms why he is not attending.
Yep, this. Pick him up at or after lunch and skip the rest of the day. I wouldn't make up an appointment excuse; your actual reason is good enough. As his parent, you can make that choice.

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I agree. You don't have to "make a stink," just say that your family's religious beliefs prohibit your child from participating and you would like to know if they have a plan in place for such circumstances (like sending him to the library) or should you pick him up early.
I agree that making a stink is inappropriate. Every family can choose to have their child participate or not in each activity, but I think it is unfair to take a secular holiday celebration away from the entire class over the personal beliefs of one family.

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I wonder if it's too late to change the party. Should I reply to the email asking for parent volunteers, and tell them that I have a problem with the party itself?
Help me understand the issue with a Halloween or Valentine party. I honestly don't understand and would like to.

I am not religious, and chose not to go to baccalaureate when I was a senior in high school. I chose not to say the words "under god" in the pledge. I choose not to bow my head or repeat the words during prayers at weddings though I do sit very quietly. I think we can personally chose to not participate in things that don't line up with our beliefs, but I don't think it is reasonable to expect that others will give them up because you or I don't agree.
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#24 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 09:55 PM
 
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I would contact the teacher & find out what the plan is for that day.

At my kids school the kids dress up at last recess(2-2:15), then they play halloween games in the gym that are set up by the Grade 6 leadership club. Their costumes are removed & the rest of the afternoon is a party in the class.

In the school I work in the kids dress up at last recess I believe, then they do a parade throughout the school in each class BUT they have their party part after dinner.
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#25 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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Find out what the schedule is. If possible (depending on the schedule) take him out for the least amount of time. Tell the school why.

Or

Ask the school what they plan on having children who do not participate do instead.
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#26 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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but I think it is unfair to take a secular holiday celebration away from the entire class over the personal beliefs of one family.

Help me understand the issue with a Halloween or Valentine party. I honestly don't understand and would like to.
The holidays are not secular, although the way we celebrate may seem so. They are Christian (and/or ancient Celtic) in roots, but we celebrate in such a way that they have lost religious significance to most Christians. Halloween celebrates All Hallows' Eve before All Saints Day (November 1). Valentine's Day celebrates the feast of Saint Valentine(s).
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#27 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 10:21 PM
 
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Is the school celebrating these holidays in a religious way?

 
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#28 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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It is not uncommon for a student who has religious beliefs against a "holiday" to leave school when before a party. I have worked for the public school system for a couple of years and the kids that I have known that don't participate just get picked up right before the party starts and are signed out for the rest of the day. The schools should be fine with you doing so.

I don't think it is appropriate to ask to have the party changed. It is usually a school wide plan and kids who do participate are already excited about it.

Just a simple note, phone call, or stop in at the school would suffice. Tell them that due to your personal religious beliefs, your child will not be participating in the Halloween party and that you will be picking him up at right before the party that day.

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#29 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 10:41 PM
 
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Most people who celebrate Halloween think that it's 100% secular, and have never heard of anyone having qualms with it being a Christian-rooted holiday.
Halloween is an observance of pagan origin, not Christian. It is celebrated in a secular way now, but that is not its origin.


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Help me understand the issue with a Halloween or Valentine party. I honestly don't understand and would like to.
The OP is Jewish. Valentine's Day is an observance of Catholic origin.



OP, I don't celebrate Halloween, and we don't do "Fall Festivals" either because, let's be honest, it's just a Halloween party in disguise...which is sort of appropriate, no? LOL

What I do is explain, explain, explain to my children what the objection to the observance is. Then they decide if they are prepared to speak up and ask the teacher for an alternate activity. They can choose to stay in the room, or they can ask to go to the library. If they feel that morning like they need my help, I pick them up right before the party starts.

Some years, I have gathered all the non-celebrating kiddos in the school together for a neutral activity in the multi-purpose room. It works because I'm a fingerprinted volunteer, so I can be alone with kids. Also, I know all the parents and am confident they would be glad I took their kids. And last, we're in a charter school, so I end up with a couple of volunteer hours for doing this.

More often that not, though, I just pick the kids up early. I don't worry about them missing, because our district allows one hour per day to be missed for religious instruction off-campus. We just go straight home and have a bible study (which we do weekly anyway) and then I write an affadavit for the principal.

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#30 of 113 Old 10-17-2010, 11:09 PM
 
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I think the school should be told that the in class Halloween celebration conflicts with your religious beliefs. It could be a learning moment for all of them. My suspicion is that this is something the PTA does, and they've never had an active member who's Orthodox Jewish or of a Christian denomination that objects to Halloween. They need to be made aware of the fact that they are causing problems for some religious parents.

So, I'd tell both the PTA leaders and the principal. I wouldn't make a stink, but I would say something like "If there isn't an alternative activity planned for children who do not celebrate Halloween, I will be picking up my son at 1:25 on the day of the party."

Maybe next year, they can organize something for the kids who can't participate in Halloween.

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