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Today was 1st Communion Day in our children's class. Our two didn't make theirs as we are not religious. When our children were born there was no big day out for a Christening. No 1st confession & they don't go to the school Masses in the church next door during school hours.
Over the last few months school has been a bit tough for them. The religious instruction & faith formation steps up a gear in 2nd class. During faith formation our kids are given reading or maths to do on their own (with no help, feedback or correction).
There was supposed to be a nice project for our girls to do this year, but the school never followed up on it despite requests. Anyway faith formation class can involve a lot of things.
The other children might be learning new hymns or religious songs, so they get to sing and have fun together. Meanwhile my two are sitting doing maths. Often the other children got to colour in pictures of Zacchaeus, Jesus or Mary.
There would be full classes where the other children got to chat about the "big day" while colouring in Bible story pictures. Our 2 were still sitting doing maths or spellings. During Communion singing preparation our 2 were doing addition on their own - in the same room.
My kids were given sentences to write out while the other kids got to colour in. My kids got to do maths when the others got to draw pictures about their big day. No non-religious colouring for our 2. Not on the curriculum. Not allowed. The only time my kids got to colour in was
when the other kids were at Mass or confession - and my kids were asked to help draw or colour in pictures to go in the church for the Communion Mass. I kid you not. The only time they coloured in was when the Communion kids were busy in the church & they needed my kids to help.
I told my kids they could do their homework during faith formation. At least that would make things easier. They were told in no uncertain terms that they were not allowed do homework as they should do that at home only.
Neither of my 8yr olds pointed out the irony of being excluded from education during faith formation, but being chastised for doing valuable homework while faith formation was happening in school, rather than at home. They are 8, after all.
This week they've been left in a supervised room with more maths & spellings for even longer spells as the school celebrates the religious festival of the majority kids.
A week where other children at football, school & activities told them about bouncy castles, solid silver earrings, possible spons coming their way, veils, dresses, restaurants booked, money, parties, money, giant cakes with Communion motifs, moolah & shoes.
So today we went down to the school for the little reception, so our girls could see all their classmates. The kids looked great. They had snappy suits & flowing frocks. There were huge rosettes, handbags, 3 piece suits, cross shaped earrings, necklaces & bracelets.
There were spangly shoes & boys with more hair gel that you could shake a stick at. The kids were delighted & their grandparents & aunts & uncles were there. A nice day out for all of them.
I think today was lovely. I just wish that my children didn't have to go through an awful school year of doing maths when others were colouring, being taunted, writing during singing & listening to bragging, for other kids & families to have their big day. Not nice & not kind.
Faith formation should be outside of school hours. Cherished, Yes, but left to families & Churches & not to overstretched teachers in state funded schools who are under pressure to conform or risk their jobs. "Inclusion" is essentially non-Catholics sitting in the room silent.
We were invited to a Communion party today, which was lovely. The girls celebrated with a school friend & her family were warm & welcoming. Really nice people who thought it'd be nice to involve our family in their day. Bouncy castle too, so our two were delighted.
That family summed up for us, what the day should be about - welcoming others. When we were kids we were told that Jesus loved & welcomed people in his community who were not the same, Zacchaeus 'n all (we're not Biblical times tax collectors btw). Our girls' friend got the idea
If you value faith, hope & kindness, think about how your school treats "others" & maybe take a moment to reflect on what 1st Communion means to you & your child. I know a family who did & it made the day a lot nicer for my 8yr old girls.
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