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Talking to Your Child's Teacher About the Holy Days and Holidays

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Talking to Your Child's Teacher About the Holy Days and Holidays

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A frequent challenge of parents with elementary school-aged children is explaining to your child's teacher about our observance of God's Holy Days and the non-observance of many of the traditional holidays. Many have asked how we have dealt with this over the years. Although we certainly do not have all the answers, we would like to share with you a few ideas and suggestions that have worked for us. Your situation may be slightly different than ours. Nonetheless, we hope that some of these ideas will be of use to you.

Teaching Your Children About God's Holy Days

The first step is to carefully discuss God's Holy Days with your child. This is critical. Your child must have some understanding of why you are doing what you are doing. Explain to him or her what the Holy Days mean to us now and what they will mean to all people in the future. Try to keep it as simple as possible. Your child may have many questions. Be enthusiastic and be positive. Next, explain the world's holidays. Stress that these days do not honor God and He does not approve of our celebration of them. This is a great time to interject with Bible stories about obeying and disobeying God. Discussing these things with your child before talking to the teacher will help your child to have a better understanding as well as send a unified message to the teacher. It will also give them confidence knowing that these holidays are not the ones God wants us to keep. This discussion with your child is extremely important since sooner or later your child will have to face his or her teacher and fellow students alone. Many times your child will have to independently determine whether an assignment is OK or inapropriate or can be modified.

The next step is to schedule an appointment to meet with your child's teacher. (Some have found it helpful to talk with the the school principal first, then talk to the individual teachers.) The purpose of this meeting is two-fold: (1) Specifying days off for the Holy Days and (2) discussing our non-observance of many of the traditional holidays (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter). Pray for divine guidance and wisdom. It is a good idea to introduce yourself to the teacher before this meeting in order to start developing a relationship with him or her. Always show respect and let the teacher know you appreciate him or her. Specifically tell the teacher the dates your child will not be at school for the observance of all the Holy Days. We have found that specifying the dates in a letter addressed to the teacher works out well since they will have something to keep with your child's records for reference. (See your minister for an excused absence form covering the Holy Days if you would like one.) Most of the time teachers will not have any questions. If they do have questions, answer them politely, calmly but firmly. Again, be positive. Most of the time teachers will assign homework to be completed while you are away. It is most important that your child completes the assignment before returning. This shows that you and your child are conscientious and sincere. You may want to offer to have your child do a special assignment in addition to the homework to share with the class when you return.

As stated earlier, the second purpose for this meeting is to discuss your family's non-observance of the traditional holidays. This topic can be overwhelming for some teachers and no problem for others. We personally have faced both situations. Use your best judgment. Either way, you have to state your position. Some teachers may be interested to know "why" we do not celebrate these days. It is always better to stress that we observe other Holy Days, and stress how beneficial they are to our children. It is easy to come off sounding like we're condemning when we elaborate on why we don't want our children doing these holiday oriented activities. It's important to realize that you're asking the teacher to do something: to "exclude" your child from class projects and artwork that pertain to the holidays. He or she may feel uncomfortable "setting your child apart" from the other students, not to mention the added material the teacher will have to provide for your child.

Explain very positively that your child understands "why" he or she does not observe the holiday. Nor is it always necessary to provide an entirely different project. Many times a craft can be modified so that it is no longer holiday oriented. For example, when the rest of the class is making Christmas tree scenes, your child could draw a winter forest scene. Assure the teacher that where necessary you would be happy to provide alternate artwork or activities for your child. Usually this puts the teacher at ease if there was any apprehension. Don't be too pushy. Let the teacher decide what he or she would like to do and what you can provide. Most of the time the teacher will be receptive and cooperative in accommodating your requests especially seeing your level of commitment and sincerity. Remember that teachers want what is best for your child also. The following are some suggested alternate activities for your child.


Work on a fall scene with animals. Put together a colorful fall leaf collection to share with the class. Make a basket, gather fruits and vegetables (apples, nuts, pumpkins, gourds, corn, squash, etc.) for a classroom decoration.


Make a snowman out of Styrofoam balls (three different sizes). Be creative and use yarn, buttons, material scraps, glitter or other items to dress him up. Draw some trees. Glue on real pine cones, cotton for snow and pictures of things that God created such as birds, fruit, etc. Cut out snowflakes and put a little glue and glitter on them. Attach a string to hang them in the classroom. Make animals out of twigs or pipe cleaners. Glue on eyes and a nose. Draw a picture of a favorite winter activity, for example, ice skating, sledding. Remember to review appropriate songs with the teacher ahead of time. Some seasonal songs are not about Christmas, such as "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells," "Sleigh Ride" and others.

Valentine's Day

Have your child make special cards for the sick. Make friendship bracelets using elastic string and small beads.


Start a seed collection. Glue them on a poster board and label them for others to see. Plant some of them in an egg carton. Marigold flowers grow quickly and can be transplanted in a decorated Styrofoam cup. Plant some grass in a clear plastic cup. Make a face on the cup and watch this character's green hair grow. The whole class can benefit from these projects and many times the teacher may even include the class in the same project.

General Suggestions

Here are a few other general suggestions. With any of the holidays, it's always a good idea to pack activity items in your child's backpack just in case the teacher forgets to provide something. Trace and draw coloring books, spirographs, flash cards, weaving looms, various books, paper dolls and brush and paint books are just a few suggestions. Basically, whatever your child can sit and work with quietly in most cases is acceptable to the teacher. Be sure to check with the teacher first. If you have more than one child in school, you may check to see if they can get together to play a board game or use the computer while the other children are having their parties. You may choose to pick up your child early when parties are scheduled. If you have any other suggestions, send them to United News.