Wednesday, October 9, 2013

All Except for One

     How many of you have been personally asked to remove Halloween activities from your classroom? I was asked that once, 5 years ago to the day. One of my parents approached me, and explained that they didn't want their child exposed to any of our Halloween festivities. They also insisted that I exclude any and all Halloween lesson plans and activities, while their child was in attendance. As I am sure a lot of you can imagine, this made me feel terrible. I love to include all of my students in fun activities, especially during such an awesome holiday. Not only did I feel terrible about having this child miss out on the activities, but I also felt horrible for the rest of my students.
     Halloween is such a fun time for our little ones. Kids love to get dressed up, and pretend that they are the person or thing that they're dressed up as. They enjoy going trick-or-treating, or to those famous "Trunk or Treat" parties. I just remember thinking, "How on earth could you ever do this to your child?" It broke my heart.
    As the days went by, I taught my students about bugs. I taught them about the fall leaves... and left out Halloween completely. It was the craziest thing that I had ever done in my classroom. I had always included Halloween in my lesson plans, and classroom activities... EVERY SINGLE YEAR... all. except. for. one.
    As you can imagine, Halloween did sneak its way into my classroom. My students started talking about Halloween. They talked about the costumes that they would be wearing. They talked about the Halloween parties that they would be going to... all. except. for. one. As my students were talking, their faces brightened. They were excited, all. except. for. one. I could tell that this student felt uncomfortable, because she knew that she wouldn't be dressing up for Halloween. She wouldn't be going to Halloween parties. She knew she wouldn't be getting any candy for Halloween. She soon kept herself away from the rest of the students, because she felt left out. During recess, she would always stay with me. She wouldn't play with the other kids. It was one of the saddest things that I had ever seen.
     As Halloween approached, her parents came to me and explained that their daughter would not be attending school on Halloween. Halloween had come; my students, all. except. for. one., were in my classroom dressed up. The kids asked where this missing student was. It just about ate me alive as I tried to come up with the words to explain, why all. except. for. one. was in my classroom that day. I could see the disappointment in their faces. I could tell that they wanted her there with them. All I could say was, "Her parents wanted her to stay home, today." Then I said, "... but I am happy that you are all here with me." I was happy to see most of my students there, having a great time... but my mind was centered on this one little girl, who didn't get the chance to be apart of it. One little girl missed out on making a childhood memory that day, and it bothered me. In my opinion, every child has the right to build some wonderful Halloween memories. Why not this child too?
     If you have ever been in my situation, how did you feel? And how did you handle it? Did you feel as terrible, as I did? If you haven't been in a similar situation before, what do you think you would've done?     This has been something that I will always remember, each Halloween. I will always wonder if this little girl would ever get the chance to dress up for Halloween, or even go to any of these fun activities. I hope that she would. Wouldn't you?

Mommy and Me Creations

7 comments:

  1. I have had to exclude all holiday activities two years for two different students. Both times the students could not participate in the activities because of their religion. I didn't like skipping those activities, but I also understood that this was the parent's choice. It was definitely hard while teaching kindergarten, but one of the years was when I was teaching third grade. That year was a little easier because the boy understood and didn't mind missing out on those activities like the holiday program.

    Amanda
    Mrs. Pauley’s Kindergarten

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amanda,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. It is always so good to hear how others have handled these kinds of situations.

      Thanks again,
      Jacque

      Delete
  2. I do not include Halloween in my classroom at all. My first year of teaching, I had 5 parents make a big wave over this "satanic" holiday (as they called it), so I just decided it wasn't worth my battle. I had a child in my last school that could not participate in holiday related classroom activities of any variety, but her parents threw a fit when she couldn't attend the Christmas party. I just didn't understand, and I still don't. More and more it seems like parents are not teaching their children their religious views to go with the ones they are seeing in the rest of the world. My parents did not let me participate in Halloween, and I turned out fine, but I knew and understood why because it was continually explained to me. It is so hard. I keep waiting until we are told to remove it all from our lessons....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jules,

      I truly appreciate your comments. It is always great to hear from everyone, and what they have experienced in their classrooms and schools. Thanks again!

      Jacque

      Delete
  3. I love that idea! It's turns the Fall season into a much positive thing for everyone! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. As someone who does not celebrate Halloween, I think your approach to the situation is overly biased. My children are not sad because they are "missing out." Quite the contrary, they think it's a bit ridiculous that kids don't know the "real" reason behind Halloween. And they are in the 5th & 4th grades. I didn't give them that opinion, I gave them facts and they made their own judgement. (And they dress as whatever they want during their own playtime.) You can teach about the season, the harvest, etc. and have LOTS of fun because we definitely do. If my children were not homeschooled and went to a school that was celebrating Halloween, they would not be attending that day & I would ask the consideration that the other parent asked you. Characters such as zombies, mummies, witches and ghosts are not necessary to make learning fun. However, pumpkins, apples and even spiders and bats (though not technically seasonal) can be informational and fun.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I try to be sensitive to people who celebrate differently because of their religion. For example, during Ramadan I always invite those students to read in my room rather than sit in the cafeteria while others are eating. I do harvest and scarecrows and lots of "fall" activities when I have children who do not participate, however I also feel that the majority of students should not miss out because of one. It is hard to balance. The "real" reason behind Halloween is centuries old and has nothing to do with the way it is celebrated today. So much fun has been taken from our kids because of terrorism and other sad facts. I think celebrating Halloween is cultural and not religious. Just my two cents.
    Debbie
    debjac9@aol.com

    ReplyDelete