I was wrong about the year that separate meetings ( or classes ) for children at their level of comprehension. Rutherford put a stop to it in 1936( not in the 40's or 50s as I had thought, and it was shortlived), and the reasons are stated in the Procalimers book.
Here is a little info from the Procalimers book:
Proclaimers book ( 1993) Chapter 16 Pages 244-245
Where Young Ones Fit In
During the early years, the publications and the meetings of the Bible Students were not particularly geared to young people. They could attend the meetings, and some of them did so and listened eagerly. But there was no special effort to involve them in what took place. Why not?
The understanding of the brothers at that time was that only a very short time was left until all the members of Christ’s bride would be united with him in heavenly glory. The Watch Tower, in 1883, explained: “We who are in training for the high calling cannot turn aside from the special work of this age—the work of preparing ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ The Bride is to make herself ready; and just at the present moment, when the last touches of adornment are being put on preparatory to the wedding, every member’s service is required in this all-important, present work.”
Parents were strongly urged to shoulder their own God-given responsibility to care for the spiritual instruction of their children. Separate Sunday schools for youths were not encouraged. It was obvious that Christendom’s use of Sunday schools had done much harm. Parents who sent their children to such schools often took the view that this arrangement relieved them of the responsibility to give religious instruction to their children. The children, in turn, because they were not looking to their parents as a primary source of instruction about God, were not motivated to honor their parents and obey them as they should.
However, from 1892 to 1927, the Watch Tower did set aside space for comment on the text featured in the “International Sunday School Lessons,” which were then popular in many Protestant churches. These texts were for many years selected by F. N. Peloubet, a Congregational clergyman, and his assistants. The Watch Tower discussed these texts from the standpoint of the Bible Students’ advanced understanding of the Scriptures, free from the creeds of Christendom. It was hoped that in this way the Watch Tower would find its way into some of the churches, that the truth would thus be presented, and that some church members would accept it. Of course, the difference was evident, and this angered the Protestant clergy.
The year 1918 came, and the remnant, or remaining ones of the anointed, were still on the earthly scene. The number of children at their meetings had also greatly increased. Often the youngsters had simply been allowed to play while their parents studied. Yet, young people, too, needed to learn to “seek righteousness, seek meekness,” if they would be “hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.” (Zeph. 2:3, KJ) So, in 1918 the Society encouraged the congregations to arrange for a juvenile class for children from 8 to 15 years of age. In some places there were even primary classes for those too young to attend the juvenile class. At the same time, parental responsibility toward the children was again emphasized.
This led to other developments. The Golden Age, in 1920, carried a feature entitled “Juvenile Bible Study,” with questions accompanied by Scripture citations in which the answers could be found. That same year, The Golden Age ABC was published; it was an illustrated booklet for use by parents in teaching basic Bible truths and Christian qualities to their youngsters. A book entitled The Way to Paradise, written by W. E. Van Amburgh, followed in 1924. It was adapted to “intermediate students of the Bible.” For a time it was used at the meetings for younger ones. Additionally, in America, “Junior Witnesses” had their own arrangements for field service. In Switzerland a youth group formed an association called “Jehovah’s Youth,” for those between 13 and 25 years of age. They had their own secretary’s office in Berne, and a special magazine, Jehovah’s Youth, was edited and printed on the Society’s presses there. These youths had their own meetings and even put on Bible dramas, as they did in the Volkshaus in Zurich for an audience of 1,500.
What was taking place, however, was that an organization was developing within the organization of Jehovah’s servants. This would not contribute to unity, and it was discontinued in 1936. In April 1938, during a visit to Australia, J. F. Rutherford, the Society’s president, found that a class for children was being held apart from the convention for adults. He immediately arranged for all the children to be brought into the main convention, which was greatly to their benefit.
In that same year, The Watchtower reviewed the entire matter of separate classes for young folks in the congregation. That study again emphasized the fact that parents are responsible to instruct their own children. (Eph. 6:4; compare Deuteronomy 4:9, 10; Jeremiah 35:6-10.) It also showed that the Bible provides no precedent for segregating young ones by means of junior classes. Instead, they were to be present with their parents to hear God’s Word. (Deut. 31:12, 13; Josh. 8:34, 35) When further explanation of study material was needed, this could be given by the parents at home. Furthermore, the articles pointed out that arrangements for such separate classes were actually detracting from the house-to-house preaching of the good news. How so? Because the teachers were staying out of the field service to prepare for these classes and to conduct them. So, all separate classes for youths were discontinued.
Right down to the present, it remains the custom among Jehovah’s Witnesses for the entire family to attend congregation meetings together. Children are helped by their parents to prepare so that they can participate in appropriate ways. Additionally, a fine array of publications has been provided for parents to use in giving young folks instruction at home. Among these have been the books Children, in 1941; Listening to the Great Teacher, in 1971; Your Youth—Getting the Best Out Of It, in 1976; My Book of Bible Stories, in 1978; and Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, in 1989.
Here is what was published regarding how to handle children who " become boiusterous" and babies who "cry" during the two hour meetings that are taught at an adult level of understnading. The article was about husbands sometimes being the cause of why some wives become "spirituall weak".
3/1/88 Watchtower page 24-25
7 Do husbands always realize that taking care of a baby or a young child often prevents their wives from getting full benefit from the Congregation Book Study, Kingdom Hall meetings, circuit assemblies, and district conventions? Such a situation can last for months, and even years, when baby follows baby. It is in the nature of things that the load, in this respect, falls mainly on the mother, rather than on the father. It has sometimes been observed that whereas some Christian men progress spiritually, even to the point of being assigned privileges in the congregation, their wives become spiritually weak. Why? Often it is because their young children prevent the wives from concentrating at meetings, doing deep Bible study, or sharing in a large measure in the witnessing work. Can fatherhood be called responsible if it permits such situations to develop?
8 Fortunately, this is not always the case. Many Christian fathers do their utmost to share the load of looking after the children. They take their full share in seeing that their children remain quiet during congregation meetings. If their baby starts to cry, or their child becomes boisterous, they in their turn will take it outside for appropriate discipline. Why should mother always be the one to lose parts of the meetings? At home, considerate husbands help their wives with the chores and in getting the children to bed so that husband and wife can sit down to concentrate quietly on spiritual matters.
7. What has happened to some Christian wives, and what is often the cause of this situation?
8. How do many fathers share the load of looking after the children, with what benefit to their wives?
I looked back at articles STUDIED in the Watchtowers and was sickened by what these children and babies were expected to sit through. There is NO WAY they could have comprehended any of what was being studied.
I do remember so clearly as if it were yesterday, children ( as young as ONE YEAR OLD! ) being taken downstairs and being slapped over and over on their bare skin for simply crying or squirming/not sitting still enough. I saw it going on ALL THE TIME during meetings. I used to hurry back upstairs if I were downstairs and a parent would come down the stairs holding their hand tightly over their crying child's mouth. The child KNEW what was going to happen to them. I could see the sheer fear in the children's eyes. I was young at the time. I wish adults would have spoken up and done something stop it. If I were still in the JW sect, I find myself calling DCYF to see if I could get someone to attend meetings for a few weeks, under the guise of being an "interested one", with a hidden camera. My personal opinion of what I witnessed over and over again in the Pawtucket RI congregation throughout the 1970s crossed over the line of dicipline. It was child abuse by all means. I truly hope the situation has changed. But somehow, I tend do doubt it has.
It was very nice meeting you yesterday at the NE apostefest