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Opting Out Of Re


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I've got a new child coming into my reception class next week and she is Muslim. Mum does not want her to be involved in any RE activities, not Christmas play, Christmas cards, etc on the basis that she might get confused. I've said to her that we'll have a proper meeting to agree exactly what we'll be doing to support their position, but wanted to ask your opinions first! My current school is very white, nominally Christian. My previous school had a large percentage of Muslim children who all joined in with everything. We obviously find out about all different religions, and, no matter what my personal beliefs are, I would never promote any religion, just say that this is what some people believe and different people believe different things. I'm a bit worried about the weeks leading up to Christmas when we read different nativity-based stories, have nativity role-play and small world and generally get a bit festive! What are your experiences?

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Guest lesboyle
I've got a new child coming into my reception class next week and she is Muslim. Mum does not want her to be involved in any RE activities, not Christmas play, Christmas cards, etc on the basis that she might get confused. I've said to her that we'll have a proper meeting to agree exactly what we'll be doing to support their position, but wanted to ask your opinions first! My current school is very white, nominally Christian. My previous school had a large percentage of Muslim children who all joined in with everything. We obviously find out about all different religions, and, no matter what my personal beliefs are, I would never promote any religion, just say that this is what some people believe and different people believe different things. I'm a bit worried about the weeks leading up to Christmas when we read different nativity-based stories, have nativity role-play and small world and generally get a bit festive! What are your experiences?

I think this is a hard time of year, but you will have to respect the parent's wishes. You are absolutely right about taking the time to talk to the parents. Perhaps you could offer to provide alternative arrangements during singing or during the Christmas story, (or perhaps they could come in to support their child in something relating to their religion) But I also think it is important to stress that part of the EYFS is about developing awareness of other cultures/religions. You could suggest that the parents come in to talk to the children about what they do at Christmas time and use it as a learning opportunity for all children. I would also explain that much of what you do around Christmas will still be developing skills outlined in the EYFS eg making Christmas decorations/cards etc Our school has very mixed ethnic and cultural catchment with white and/or Christian children the minority, and we have found that by going the extra mile to try to learn about and celebrate all the religious and cultural festivals celebrated by the children's families means that when Christmas comes around, it is just another celebration and the Muslim families seem to be happy with their children taking part. Good luck.

Lesley

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Sorry for the late reply, lost your post and just found it now :o I'm very tired, had a long day so please forgive me for any spelling mistakes.

 

I read your post with interest as I had a similiar sort of experience as a parent of children with Islamic faith. I, out of lack of knowledge and fear that my child would lose their identity also tried to withdraw my eldest son from RE related activities during his reception year in a mainstream school. Unfortunately I was met with the response that if I wanted to do that I would have to go into school and supervise my child everytime the school had any sort of RE based activities. At this response I decided to remove my child from the school and find a new school. I found an Islamic school where I have also worked for the past 8 years, anyway that's another story!! What I am trying to say is that 'your' parent may also have similar worries and I'm sure if you explain what you wrote in your post, 'We obviously find out about all different religions, and, no matter what my personal beliefs are, I would never promote any religion, just say that this is what some people believe and different people believe different things.' (sorry, I haven't got a clue how to highlight your text) to the parent it will alleviate some of their concerns. I think Lesley provided some very good advice and I hope everything works out.

 

Yas x

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My childrens school is very multi-cultural, with Islam being one of the main religions practiced, and the school celebrates all the major festivals. The only children who are withdrawn from RE, assemblies etc, are the Plymouth Brethen. If the child is their eldest they may have concerns as they have no previous experience to go by and it doesn't sound if there are many, if any, Muslim parents there to reassure and inform them. Like Lesley said, once parents realise all religions are respected and celebrated they are happy for their children to join in.

 

Karrie

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So should I be encouraging her to allow her child to join in our nativity play and practising Christmas songs? Could I maybe ask her if she and her daughter have a favourite story from Islam that they could come in and share with the class that we could do a play of at a different point in the year? And does anyone have any good young children's books on stories from Islam that they could recommend?

Thank you for all your advice, especially Yas - I feel like I'm doing some of the right things now!

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I also think it is important to point out to the parents that it is a specific early learning goal that children develop an awareness of the cultures and beliefs of others (wording fails me at this time of day). And explain clearly that ALL religious festivals are celebrated and name some that you do, like Chinese New Year, Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah and show her any photo or work evidence that you have. If every child was withdrawn from a festival celebration that wasn't their religion how on earth would we promote a multi-cultural society?

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Totally agree with the above poster! Would this child need to be withdrawn when celebrating other religions? or festivals? it would be interesting to hear the parents view on that.

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Would this child need to be withdrawn when celebrating other religions? or festivals? it would be interesting to hear the parents view on that.

She absolutely would - mum understandably wants her daughter to grow up in the faith she herself believes in, and is concerned that she might be confused if presented with other faiths. I do completely agree with the above posts, and strongly believe that the way that different faiths and cultures are explored in my class would support any child with any of those beliefs and would not undermine them, and also that removing a 4 year old from her class could have negative effects on her personal, social and emotional development. I just want to be really clear and sure of my position before I meet properly with her as I wouldn't want to be confrontational or judgmental in any way.

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