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  • 1.  Holidays

    Posted 12-02-2018 11:07 PM
    I run a preschool and I am looking for some advice/direction.I feel torn around the holidays (as far as curriculum is concerned). I understand that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, nor celebrates in the same way and some families do not celebrate any holidays. I respect all of those choices. I want to provide an anti-bias education/environment. I also believe holidays shouldn't be ignored. This can be a time for children to share a meaningful part of themselves. I have had children talking about Christmas for days now. I know my students and their families- all of them choose to celebrate Christmas. With that being said, would it be inappropriate to read Christmas books, sing Christmas songs and have some "holiday themed" free choice activities available in the class? I wouldn't teach about Santa or the religious aspect. I can also provide books and songs regarding other December holidays for the children to explore. I know at ages 3-5 they're still in an egocentric development stage, so talking about other celebrations may not be the most effective.I did that last year and not sure about it. Anyway, I would appreciate any type of feedback. I see both sides and want to do what is best for the children and best early childhood education practice. Thank you!

    Director/Head Teacher

  • 2.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-04-2018 07:32 AM
    I would suggest you do a quick survey of the parents to see if anyone would be offended, explain to them you would keep it "secular" and not bring in religion. If no one objects, then singing "Jingle Bells" etc. could make the next few weeks festive.  I have the good fortune of being in a catholic setting and we can talk about Christmas, however, I also talk about the holidays from other faiths such as Hanukkah.

    You could also just focus on Winter and the New Year!

    Sister Lois Buck
    Cleveland, OH

  • 3.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-04-2018 09:26 AM

    If it is private (people pay for services), then you can ask or poll parents, because they can voice their displeasure by disenrolling, but if you get any public money I wouldn't do religious oriented activities, even a poll in my opinion is not appropriate.

    If everyone is Christian and says they want Santa and you're not, then how does it look if you say no? It looks horrible, people say they are tolerant, but many people are not and will make you pay. You're forced owing to circumstances to laugh and smile about thing you're not comfortable with. 

    As the kid who was different, I was forced to smile and play along with many things I was not comfortable with for "the greater good."

    Lark Sontag
    MA, Early Childhood Education
    Alumna Pacific Oaks College
    Trainer, Adjunct Early Childhood Education Faculty, and Early Childhood Education contributor to 30seconds
    New York Metro

  • 4.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-04-2018 10:31 AM
    We have done themes like bells, candles, gifts, and stars/night. All of these can relate to most winter holidays without favoring one.

    Karen Rude
    Preschool & Tots Coordinator
    Palatine Park District
    Palatine IL

  • 5.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-04-2018 04:53 PM
    Developmentally Appropriate Practices dictates that ECE teachers create curriculum that is relevant in the lives of their students.  If all your families celebrate Christmas, then creating experiences in the classroom around that theme is sure appropriate.  If you were to base your curriculum development on the theme "Family Christmas Traditions", then all the children's family cultures can, and should, be represented, religious or otherwise.  Those who have a broader cultural representation in their group could call the theme "Family Holiday Traditions" and include other seasonal holidays that are celebrated among their students.  Probably the least appropriate approach is to teach about the cultures that are not represented in your group, while dismissing the ones that are.

    Elizabeth Werner
    Blessed Beginnings
    Cody WY

  • 6.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-04-2018 06:54 PM
    This is probably a minority opinion but because I believe very strongly in the separation of church and state I'm not in favor of any educational environment, unless it's faith-based, celebrating or decorating for religious holidays.  Christmas is a religious holiday so, to me, there's no aspect of Christmas that isn't religious.  There are still ways to bring in the holidays if you want to--by having families come in and present to the children some aspect of their holiday celebration, whether it's food, decorations, or stories that children can share.  To me, this is very different than a teacher or the school in general bringing in holiday themes or the room being decorated with holiday themes.  It's personal to the student and no one in an authority role is saying that this is how one celebrates holidays.

    There are so many rich ways that the season can be brought into the classroom. There are wonderful songs about winter and kids can make up their own.  Bring in snow or pretend snow.  Study birds that stay for the winter.  Talk about the Solstice as the shortest day and the longest night and how people used to think that the sun would never return on the Solstice.  Decorate the room with glitter covered stars and phases of the moon.  Have a pajama party.  Learn how to say "Good Night" and "Winter" in many different languages.  Sing lullabies and ask children to make up their own and sing them to stuffed animals and to each other.  Write down children's stories about night time and bed time and ask them if they want to illustrate their story.  These are just a few ways to bring the cozy, sweet feelings of the season into the classroom without depicting religious holidays.

    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA

  • 7.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-05-2018 02:30 PM
    Part of what is great about the holidays is that there is so much for children to share between school and home.  I would pick a central idea to use as a focus and then invite your families to share how that idea is present in their traditions and celebrations.  Light is a common element of the winter holidays, for example, so children can share menorahs, tree lights, Kwanzaa and St. Lucia candles, the lanterns of Las Posadas, lamps of Diwali, fireworks of Chinese New year, etc. Music also offers a great opportunity to explore a variety of cultures.  I think we rob some of the joy of the season when we completely eliminate all celebrations, so I am in favor of more chances for children to have fun and learn about each other's festivities.  It can be a celebration all month long!
    Above all, follow the lead of the children.  If they are wanting to read and sing about Christmas, do it, but also use it as a chance to introduce new and exciting options from other cultures represented in your program.  As you said, when children are young, the egocentric element is super important and they are not likely to appreciate an introduction to another holiday out of context.  But if I celebrate Christmas and Maya celebrates Diwali and Eli celebrates Hanukkah, there is a more direct connection to the information about something new.

    Holly Dalferes
    George Cottage at St Martin's Episcopal School
    Metairie LA

  • 8.  RE: Holidays

    Posted 12-06-2018 03:53 AM
    When I was in the classroom we chose a theme "Festivals of Light Around the World". We then wrote a note to parents explaining that we will be celebrating and asked if their family/culture celebrated a specific festival of light and would they like to share with the teachers so we could incorporate it into our curriculum. Personally, I learned about several celebrations that I was unaware of. Most, not all celebrations take place during winter months and there is usually a craft project, food, song/dance that can be adapted to the classroom.

    Karin King
    Education Consultant
    Trumbull CT