The holidays season is upon us, and many early education and childcare centers may be struggling with how to celebrate these important days in ways that show respect for the various traditions and values of your children and their families. Celebrating the holidays in your classroom can be a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about the differing traditions and values of others in order to broaden their understanding of their community and the world.
However, celebrating holidays in the classroom does have its own set of challenges. Some centers intentionally avoid celebrating holidays in an attempt to not offer offense to children and parents who celebrate holidays in their own traditions. Meanwhile, others will try to celebrate every single holiday or, even worse, try to blend multiple holidays into one.
Because holiday celebrations are an important way to build and strengthen bonds between your staff and families, avoiding them in your center means that you will miss out on that opportunity. So how should a center with multi-cultural families embrace holiday celebrations in your classrooms? NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) suggests that holiday celebrations be planned as a collaborative effort among educators, children, and parents.
The key to success is inclusion – and you can do this by ensuring that your children and their families feel comfortable with, and are encouraged to participate in, the planning of holiday celebrations, activities, or events.
When planning holiday celebrations for your classroom begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do the celebrations reflect the diverse group of students in your class?
Ensure that every child is celebrated! This does not mean that you must celebrate every holiday. Instead, children should learn that everyone’s holidays are significant and meaningful.
- Are the celebration activities developmentally appropriate?
Like other curriculum developed for your classrooms, all activities should be age-appropriate and meaningful for young children and be a good use of time.
- Do activities demonstrate respect for everyone’s customs?
An important part of celebrating holidays in the classroom is to ensure that it honors and celebrates the customs and values of other groups.
- Do the activities demonstrate the fact that not everyone celebrates holidays the same way?
Within any group, holidays may be celebrated very differently. Encourage the children to share how their family celebrates holidays.
Create an inclusive environment in which all children and families are valued! To learn more about this topic, a great resource is Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards.
Diana is a blog writer and early childhood education content specialist at Kindertales.
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