If you walk by the door of most childcare centers during the holidays, you’ll see teachers and children decorating, crafting, and planning festivities. Although the holidays are exciting, the growing diversity in early childhood programs makes it more important than ever for childcare professionals to be respectful of all kids’ beliefs during holiday celebrations.
When holidays are near and dear to your heart, it’s hard not to bring that excitement into your childcare classroom. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween, or other holidays.
Even when families do celebrate these holidays, parents may not want their children exposed to certain aspects. For instance, parents may not mind their kids celebrating Halloween, but they may hold beliefs that oppose references to ghosts, monsters, witches and goblins. Parents may also have beliefs that discourage references to such fictional characters as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
Every holiday activity in your childcare classroom should positively support the well-being and self-esteem of each child. This doesn’t mean you have to stress out and walk on eggshells every time a holiday rolls around. It simply means you should celebrate in ways that respect all of your students’ beliefs.
Removing controversial elements from holiday activities is a great way to celebrate while still respecting kids’ beliefs. While this method is not perfect, it lessens the likelihood of children being left out of classroom activities because their beliefs are different from others. Also, parents are less likely to object to celebrations that promote general experiences. Here are a few ideas to generalize holiday celebrations.
Instead of throwing holiday-themed parties, turn them into seasonal celebrations. For instance, during Easter you could have a “spring festival” for the children and during Christmas you could throw a “winter bash.” The decorations can consist of things that are traditionally found during the season you’re celebrating.
Spring festival decorations might include flowers, baby chicks, butterflies and bunnies. Decorations for a winter celebration might include things like mittens, snowflakes and snowmen.
Instead of an Easter egg hunt, the class could have a pastel-colored rock hunt or a spring picnic. Keep arts and craft activities neutral. For example, avoid Halloween projects that focus on ghosts, goblins and witches. Instead, opt for activities that include pumpkins, leaves, acorns and pine cones.
By removing the controversial elements of holiday celebrations, you give every child in your care an opportunity to actively participate in festivities while still holding true to their beliefs.