by Vicki Lehman, Professional Development Specialist
The holiday season is often a very exciting time of the year. This goes for both children AND adults! For children, they are experiencing all of their family’s traditions. For parents and caregivers, they also have the opportunity to share traditions with their children. As an early childhood professional, it is easy to get caught up in celebrating a certain holiday within your classroom or center. It is very important that you are intentional with your planning and you ensure that all children and their families are represented appropriately. The most important thing for the children will be that they see themselves and their families reflected in the activities and celebrations that you plan.
You want to be sure that the activities you are planning accurately represent the different ways families may choose to celebrate different holidays. Here are a few ideas to help you get family members involved. (Julie Bisson, Celebrate!: An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays)
- Encourage families to share information about their holidays and how they celebrate.You will find that most of the families will share information with you. They will be grateful that they were included and that you took the time to ask them for specific information.
- Ask for activity ideas! Most families will be more than happy to help you incorporate their holiday into your lesson plans. Ask them if there are any fun activities or games they think would be appropriate for the age group you work with.
- Invite family members in to share a story or activity with your class. It’s always great for kids to get a different perspective straight from the source, and little ones will have a sense of pride when their own family members can participate.
It is also important to remember that December isn’t the only month in which holidays take place. If you have children in your care that celebrate holidays in other months, recognize and include those holidays in your plans. Give equal emphasis to all holidays celebrated within your group of children to help them feel respected and included.
Remember, the “Holiday Season” is not the only time you should celebrate diversity. Your classroom should represent many different cultures year round. Post pictures of the children and their families on the wall, place books on the shelf that are culturally diverse, and talk about the different kinds of family units present in your classroom. Do your homework so you know the information you give the children is accurate.
Holidays are incredibly important and personal for the families that celebrate them. Taking that extra step and incorporating ALL of the holidays the children in your care celebrate will really go a long way. Enjoy the fun and excitement that will come with the children getting the opportunity to share their traditions with you and the class. Happy Holidays!
Cover image by Flickr user mel, Creative Commons license.