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Mom Cassandra Hess recounts the teacher's reaction to the assignment in an interview with the local Fox affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio.
"[She] told him that she was not going to allow him to have that picture there, that he had to redo it," she said.
Now the family is outraged and asks school officials to take action. The principal though supports the teacher's decision.
"Given the age of the children in the class, we do not believe the subject of the photograph was appropriate," Principal Cherie Kaiser wrote in a statement to Fox 8. "This decision was made in consideration of the best interests of all students in the class."
Kids will experience death at some point and it's important to find ways to talk about it.
The loss of a family member is never easy. For this family, this situation is a hard pill to swallow. After suffering the loss of Noah at 36 weeks old this past March, the tragedy is still fresh in their minds. Noah's umbilical cord was wrapped around him and his heart stopped beating.
It's a hard thing to go through for adults, but can you imagine how difficult it must be for a child to deal with death? Everyone reacts to death differently, including children.
According to Kids Health, children understand death based on their age, life experiences and personality.
"As kids learn how to deal with death, they need space, understanding and patience to grieve in their own way. They might not show grief as an adult would. A young child might not cry or might react to the news by acting out or becoming hyperactive."
In Nicholas's case, this collage might be how he deals with grief. It surprises me that the teacher couldn't see the beauty in it, and I don't get why they would alter the way Nicholas chooses to express his grief.
Even though I've never experienced a loss of a child firsthand, I am sensitive to families that have gone through it. I wouldn't be offended in any way if one of my daughter's kindergarten classmates did a project like this. In fact, it would be a great discussion to have. Kids will experience death at some point and it's important to find ways to talk about it.
My daughter never met her grandfather. He died not too long after she was born. She began asking questions about photos of him when she was 2, which led to an obsession with her deceased granddad. But I later realized that talking about the loss helped her to understand death.
My daughter has also included him in school projects. Had it been a project featuring a stillborn, I would encourage her to include photos as well. And I'd be angry if the teacher told her to redo a project because of it.
Children should be free to express themselves as long as they're not threatening anyone or using hurtful language. Nicholas's teacher, in my opinion, was out of line, and I'm glad his mom supports his decision to keep his collage the way it is.
"If they want to grade him lower, then they can grade him lower," Cassandra said, "because I refuse to make him feel as if he cannot be proud of his brother."
What do you think? Do you agree that Nicholas should redo the assignment?