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adam and eve it


lashes2508
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wonder if anyone can advise me in a situation - we sing and sign a prayer before snack and lunch - a member of staff mentioned to another member yesterday she was uncomfortable with it as she did not have any beliefs , she was advised to talk to me which she did not take up and then today after the session she told me how she felt . the song makes 2 references to religion 'god' and 'amen'.

I asked why she had not said before, her answer was she thought everyone would be funny. I explained to her that she did not need to beleive in order to help the children do it and she was not alone in being a non believer. I said i respected her beleif but this was part of our routine etc and for the children . I asked how she would feel about the nativity and she said thats just a play but again i emphasised that it is the story of \Jesus etc and we would sing songs with religious reference which she said was fine -

 

Did i handle correctly ??

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I find religion in preschool a very thorny subject and steer clear of it whenever possible. We have children of many faiths attend including those who are atheists so I would find the saying a prayer daily very difficult to justify unless I also included rituals from other religions as well, but I guess if parents and staff know that you are a christian setting and that this is part of your ethos then the staff member will have to deal with it. I think it sounds as though you handled it sensitively and listened to her view, whether you change what you do is then up to you to and you have to jusitfy it accordingly

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Sounds like you handled it well to me, Lashes. You listened to her concerns but made it clear that this is a part of your setting's life and routines and so she is expected to take part. I've known non-Catholic practitioners who have no difficulty in supporting children learning their snack time prayers and visiting their church, and they accept it as part of the job.

 

Interesting that she sees the nativity as 'just a play' though!

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I think you did, but I also think she has a right to withdraw from those activites that are religious, of any faith. I am rather puzzled though that she's against singinging about 'god' and saying 'amen', but thinks the nativity, the story of the birth of the Son of God, is ok?? Odd..........I don't see, really how the two things can be separated? Could she not simply help at snack time, but not sing or sign the song?? And do you make it clear to parents that they have the right not to allow their children to take part? There may be others who feel as your member of staff does, but are too embarrassed to say so? Perhaps you should open this up to debate? But I still find this lady's stance on it odd. Good luck

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I'm not sure what sort of setting you are Lashes, are you a Church affiliated setting, and If not then perhaps this is the opportunity to think through what you are doing and why? There is no reason why children need to say a prayer before they eat, unless it is a policy because you are a Church group, and I assume it is some sort of thank you prayer or song. There are alternatives without being a prayer to God. I think that often these things are parroted out more as a habit than with genuine thought behind them, so that makes them meaningless.

On the other hand if you are a Church group then staff have taken on their role knowing that they may have to engage in some sort of Religious observance, and that needed to be sorted out when the staff member was employed, especially if fhey want to be able to be exempted from any Religious activities. You are absolutely right to tell her that she can still support the children, in the same way as we would support and celebrate with children of any religious belief.

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I think you handled it just fine - I'm assuming it's a Christian setting like mine. I assume it was made clear to her when she started that she would be expected to join in. It all sounds a bit muddled (her objections).

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As an athiest myself I can sort of understand her viewpoint that the nativity is okay but the prayers are not. Generally in preschool settings the nativity is done as a Christmas story and the children would just see it as this and not something 'historical' nor factual. It is no different to acting out any of the dozens of other works of fiction you may have in your book corner.

 

However, a twice daily prayer thanking god for what you are about to receive is presented in a much more factual way - the message you are giving the children is that there is a (Christian) god and we must thank him.

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I am in a Christian setting also Lashes and have had a couple of students say they are not comfortable with saying Grace etc. Because we are Church affiliated it is part of our contract with the church to openly include Christian elements. I offer the children before they have snack whether they would like to say Grace and if they don't want to say it that is fine, I ask them to sit quietly and respect the others that do which is teaching them about respecting other cultures even if it isn't their own. Never had any issue with this approach and I say the same to Staff and students if they don't wish to say Grace then just respect those that do and someone else who is willing will lead.

It's a two way thing, they respect you are a Christian setting and you respect their belief and decision to abstain from joining in.

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thanks everyone for your replies - ours is not an affiliated setting my previous one was - we say and sign grace , prayer whatever you want to call it because it is

something the children enjoy , it brings us together in our communication and offers inclusion to all especially our SEN child

we do visit the church and the local school we have good links with and is our feeder school is Cof E and thus prepares the children.

We do explain to parents this is what we do ( at my previous setting , we had many religious beliefs and yet all these parents were happy for this to happen) all of our children parents have stated they are C of E .

I personally believe in many Gods but i do not feel i am particularly asking children to praise just one God , surely if we are to educate wirth regard to different cultures and beliefs then why should the Chrsitian faith be ignored.

The song is one you are probably all familiar with - and the last line is 'thankyou God for everything' - should we change it to thankyou earth for everything - I respect other people beleifs and non beliefs but she was made fuly aware of this before and another member who is a non beleiver stated that she did not have a problem with it.

As for the nativity - it is the traditional story of Christmas - explaining why we celebrate it in this country - ours features the characters amongst others and why she does not object to this or does not feel uncomfortable is puzzling me too .

I wonder if it is because i had a chat with her the other day regarding her work and areas needed for improvement and those areas which were good.

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Lashes - I think you handled the situation well..........funny that she has only mentioned this after the supervision/appraisal :rolleyes:

 

As long as parents are 'on board' with this and the children are enjoying then I would see no reason at all to change things :1b

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I wouldn't change the wording. I would also respectfully ask staff to join in as they are modelling behaviour and so if this is part of the ethos of your setting and it was clear form the outset then it is a little late to start objecting.

 

Whether children go on to have a belief is up to them but if they never have a knowledge of the subject how can they make an informed decision? In many ways the song/prayer is a language communication exercise and as you have said an inclusive activity and probably a calming one before you eat your snack.

 

I think sometimes as practitioners we have to suspend our own beliefs in order to give our children a broad spectrum of activities and experiences.....I don't like spiders but I had to read about them. paint them, make them and even watch and enthuse about them when they would have the audacity to make their way into the setting or make huge cobwebs in the garden.....I was taught not to let my fears become the child's and so I think we must not let our prejudices be projected on the children in our care.....they will have many years ahead to develop their own :1b

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hmm, have been musing over this one. If you're not a faith group, then why use a Christian grace?? Other faiths must have some sort of blessing for food, so, if you wanted to be truly inclusive, why not use some of them?? There are many faiths, and none, practiced in this country. My own gut feeling ( and forgive me here, because I do consider myself to be broadly 'christian' in my outlook on life, as in, being a good person, treating others with the respect they deserve, living my life as honestly as I can etc) is that if parents want their children to learn about a particular faith, wouldn't they take them to a place of worship that fits in with that faith?

I am also very enthusiastic about spiders in rhyme,stories and craft activities..............I even manage to pick up wee ones, wouldn't go near a big hairy one and a tarantula makes me feel ill, but that really is a different thing, isn't it?? There you are trying not to project your own fears etc onto children. But, by saying a grace in this way, you are, as Beau put it, suggesting that there IS a god, who must be thanked.

 

PS Lashes, I am not getting at you, I just think someone should play Devil's advocate here!

Edited by narnia
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Ok Narnia.....if we are playing devils advocate here then should we not celebrate any religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Eid and the list goes on and on. I always felt it was part of our role in keeping with the EYFS to introduce our children to a range of 'Cultural beliefs' and some of those we do daily and some of those we do at specific times of the year.

 

I am not religious particularly and like many the last time I was in a church was for a wedding or a funeral but I do think children should be made aware of faith and religion, all of them......in a gentle way and then when they are older they can decide if they wish to have a strong faith or not.

 

I agree that if families feel strongly then they will of course take their child to a place of worship but if they do not does that mean a child should not have knowledge of faith? Surely part of education is teaching children things that they may not learn at home. Taking it to an extreme are you saying we shouldn't teach children things if the parents don't teach them it at home or only support teaching that has begun at home??? I am sure you are not.

 

When I was a child I went to a non church primary school but we still did hymns and prayers in assemblies as well as songs and poems of a non religious nature....it is all about balance and diversity as far as I can tell and if lashes offers access to other faiths and cultures during the course of the year then I think her practice is appropriate.

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When we introduced different religious festivals we made it clear that this was something that some people/cultures believed and practised. At no point did we state that it was what the children and their families should believe and practise and nor did we introduce them without explanation or context.

 

This is completely different to saying a daily prayer giving thanks to god. Has the prayer been explained to the children? Do they know that the 'god' they are thanking is a Christian god and that not everyone believes in the same god. Or indeed that some people do not believe in god at all and that they are free to make up their own minds about such things? If the idea is that we are teaching children about religious belief by doing this then surely the grace should be varied throughout the year to reflect a variety of faiths?

 

Having said that my own children have all attended C of E schools and I have had no issue with the religious side of this. From the time they were able to understand they have known about religious beliefs, the differences between them and that myself and my husband are atheists. Beyond that we have left them to work out for themselves what their own beliefs are.

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I find this whole thing about religion quite amazing really.

Considering we are constantly being told what a diverse society we live in as soon as someone mentions something about

religion (esp IMO if it happens to be a Christian religion) then so many people start saying oh you shouldn't be doing that & that's not fair.

As Susan says all religions have a god- albeit known by another name. Does it really matter that we are teaching children to thank someone/anyone for what they have?

Why would you try to explain to small children that they are free to make up their own minds about such things? Mine weren't at that age, they believed in what we believed in until they were old enough to make up their own minds and do what they wanted to do.

 

No I'm not at all religious and yep, I'm one of those that goes to church on high days and holidays. However, I am married to an RC, my children were all bought up as RC's and the group I am manager of is an RC group- we dont say a prayer before eating but do say one before going home and none of our parents have ever objected (probably because they are all RC!!) None of our staff have either and to be honest, if they did they would get very short shrift!!

I suppose what I'm trying to say does it really matter? My children all went to faith schools and all of them had (contrary to popular belief) a good knowledge/education of lots of different faiths. It's not made them intolerant of others (far from it in fact) beliefs or faiths. We (at work) 'teach' /celebrate lots of different festivals and celebrations but just put a little more emphasis on the Christiana festivals of Christmas and Easter especially.

 

Ok- I have said far more than i meant to (only meant to agree with Susan!!) and will now go.

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Ok, I admit to being puzzled! I have re-read what i said and can't find, anywhere, a reference to my saying that we

shouldn't celebrate any festivals. I said, that in my view, it is not inclusive to offer only a Christian grace. I suggested, I think quite fairly, that there are many other faiths and in order to be 'inclusive' then perhaps other blessings/graces/whatever you want to call them, should be offered? Otherwise how is it 'inclusive'? if you only offer one perspective, that seems pretty EXclusive to me. Or perhaps I'm getting to long in the tooth to see what it is I've missed?? The OP asked for an opinion on this; I simply gave mine. If we want children to 'have a knowledge of faith' doesn't that, by definition, mean ALL, or many faiths, otherwise, how does the child learn tolerance and respect?? At the end of the day, if staff are happy ( though one isn't and I suggested she should have the right to withdraw from it), managers are happy and parents are happy, then all is good. My problem is, if I'm asked for an opinion, I'll give it

 

@Sue: I struggled with your comment about faith and parents. I think there is a good deal of difference between 'teaching' children things that aren't taught at home and putting our own beliefs on to children. It sounds as though you are suggesting that if parents aren't willing to teach their children about religion/faith, then we should do it for them, and I'm sure that's not what you meant either. I don't follow a grace with my children. I never have with my own either. They all went to a CofE school and they never said grace there either. Who do we 'thank'?? Our parents, for putting the food on our plates?? The farmer, the people who work in the fields to produce it? or some unseen being who may, or may not exist ( that's why it's called 'faith' ).......maybe it's better, or more reasonable to recognise the effort that goes into growing and producing the food, otherwise, how do you explain then, that our children are fortunate to have food on their plates, while others are condemned to starve in famine?? Doesn't god love them enough to feed them too?

I have no wish to offend anyone with my comments, it's a thorny issue and i apologise unreservedly if I have caused offence.

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We currently do not have children of any other faiths but if we did would introduce a grace for them in order to extend our knowledge and understanding ,we do learn about other faiths, cultures etc there have been some great points raised here as always -thanks for all your contributions - Alleluia !

:D

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I agree with Narnia here and playing devils adv...... If all the children in the setting are CoE then carry on as you have always done. If your setting has mixed faiths, there should be a reference to these faiths when giving thanks. Children need a 'reference point' in the setting to feel they belong beacuse this builds their Cultural Capital. Ensuring other faiths are relevant in the setting...encourages inclusivity and fosters cultural awareness....

 

;)

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@Sue: I struggled with your comment about faith and parents. I think there is a good deal of difference between 'teaching' children things that aren't taught at home and putting our own beliefs on to children. It sounds as though you are suggesting that if parents aren't willing to teach their children about religion/faith, then we should do it for them, and I'm sure that's not what you meant either.

I have no wish to offend anyone with my comments, it's a thorny issue and i apologise unreservedly if I have caused offence.

 

I did in fact mean that if parents don't teach faith at home settings should....all faiths in context with the EYFS just as we teach children other things they don't do at home like different languages, art techniques, songs etc etc and so the list goes on. Early years education should be a whole mixture of everything and I am not sure faith should be left out.

 

However, I still feel that a setting should be able to have an ethos that it believes in and stands by and staff choosing to work in that setting should be willing to work to that settings ethos.

 

You have not caused me offence, a good old debate is always good for getting the brain juices flowing but I just think on this topic we may have to agree to differ.

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In many respects, we aren't differing at all. I do think we should teach the children about other cultures and beliefs. What I don't agree with is just telling them about one, and assuming that it must be Christian, then wrapping it up with an 'Inclusive' label. It's not............it can't be. If it's a faith group, I could get my head around it, but it's not. It's being sold as 'something the children like to do and is part of our routine'. So, my point remains......teach them something from all corners of the world, if we want to be truly 'Inclusive', I'm sure they'd love to learn about all the other things too.

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Lashes isn't just telling them about one belief as she is following the requirements of the EYFS to make her children aware of beliefs other than Xianity. She feeds a church school and the parents are happy with what she does, so she has explained the rationale for her policy, and would adapt if any parents objected, as she is of course required to do.

As to not assuming that teaching Christianity would be the faith that would be the first to be taught, well once these children are in school that is what will happen as that is at present the law. Xianity is historically the dominant religion since brought to the UK by the Romans and affects all aspects of the UK culture, so it makes sense for that to be the first choice. The Queen is the Head of the Church of England. Buildings, art, music, and literature reflecting Christian stories and beliefs, surround us, and not to understand Xianity makes it hard to see what they are about. They are part our culture like it or not, like Christ-mas. Think Narnia! Think Elliot!

Once in school in RE the children will follow the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education which always begins with Xianity, but also includes other religions, learning about them and from them. In Collective Worship they are required to engage in worship that is mainly Christian in character, but parents may withdraw their children if they wish, not many do in my experience. Schools with children who are predominantly from another faith group may apply to adapt to their needs. Eventually it may be that the campaigns of the Secular Society and the Humanist Society will prevail, and religion, all religions, will be removed from State Education, but that time is not yet.

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'Thinking' is what I have been doing. I am well aware that the Queen is the Head of the Church. I still believe, if you're going to do it, do it well, do it fairly and do it INclusively. It's where I am, and I have tried to remain measured and polite, so don't need to be told to 'Think!!; In the end, an opinion was asked for; I gave one. Mine. The main thing is, the setting is happy with what goes on in it, the parents are happy and the children are happy. Result?? Major happiness all round.

For the future, probably best I bite my tongue

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I wasn't asking you to think, I was asking you to think of Narnia. I am sure you will understand what C S Lewis was writing when he wrote about the mythical land of Narnia, and the influence of his Xian belief on the allegory of the Chronicles. In the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe Lewis tells a good story, but introduces to children the idea of sacrifice to relieve another of sin. Like the Bible it can be taken at surface level as a jolly good story, but there is so very much more being said is there not? My mention of Elliot, who was a another later convert to Xianity gave a similar example. (Think Elliot) My point being that we need to understand about the Christian religion and culture of this country and without that knowledge we don't understand our culture. That is why I think that we should assume that this should be the first religion we tackle.

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