The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is the perfect time of year for family engagement and community-building in preschool settings. This year, the holiday begins at sundown on October 2 and continues through October 9. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which Israelites wandered the desert, living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also a harvest holiday about coming together and sharing food. Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Sukkot is a structure built for outdoor eating and sleeping called a sukkah. The sukkah, emblematic of the temporary shelters used during this period of wandering, can be made of any material, as long as it is stable enough to survive the wind. The roof, however, is typically made of natural materials, i.e., leaves, bamboo, etc. Once established, the sukkah is a space for family and community gatherings.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that honors those who died while serving for the United States military. Celebrated annually on the last Monday in May, it was originally known as Decoration Day. It began after the Civil War, and officially became a holiday in 1971. For many, Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer. Memorial Day is commemorated in many ways—some will hold gatherings and participate in parades. Others will visit cemeteries and memorials to honor loved ones. Celebrating the holiday often means acknowledging the concept of death with children. Though talking with children about death can be challenging, it’s not impossible.
When discussing death with a child, first find out what he or she knows. Many children have misconceptions, fears, and worries surrounding the concept of death. While talking about it may not solve all their problems, you may be able to provide information, comfort, and a clearer understanding of what death means.
National Child Care Provider Day or Provider Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day. This commemoration was established in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, who saw the need to recognize the work of child care providers. Each year, the celebration grows as individuals, local governments, and community groups take time to recognize and value the efforts of early learning providers. We want to say Thank You for all of your hard work! Because of your time, patience, and commitment, children are learning and feeling loved every day.
by Teresa Narey
The month of December can feel like a whirlwind. As educators, we often think about how to approach holidays in our classrooms this time of year. Three major holidays are highlighted this month—Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah—but culturally, we know that so much more is at play in the lives of the children in our care and in the world at large. If all of the children in your setting celebrate the same December holiday, then you may simply embrace it and move along. However, for more diverse groups, it may be a struggle to know what to do—to know what families would like for you to do. Before promoting any holiday in your setting, it is best to talk with families and caregivers about their preferences. You might also consider taking an anti-bias education approach, which seeks to promote fairness and inclusion in school settings by offering alternative and informed approaches to celebrating mainstream holidays. Here are 5 examples to consider: Continue reading
by Teresa Narey
Across the country, many families settle in on the fourth Thursday of November to commemorate Thanksgiving. It’s a time to express gratitude for the many joys that have brought comfort to our lives and to bond with family. For many, Thanksgiving is a time to welcome guests, old and new, and to even extend support to those in need. Though issues regarding immigration and refugee resettlement are challenging and yet to be resolved in our country, early childhood educators across the nation have welcomed immigrant and refugee families to their settings. They have been tasked with learning and teaching new languages, customs, and habits in an effort to build trust and community. Continue reading
As early childhood professionals we know that learning can be messy. Children often seem to be at their happiest when they are digging, painting, or creating. In fact, if each of us paused for a moment and thought about it, we could probably easily recall a time when the children in our care were consumed by swirling paint colors and painting over the same area on the page, piling sand into large mounds, or collecting an assortment of sticks and rocks. In each of these activities, children are honing many skills—fine motor, gross motor, cognitive awareness, and math and counting. Help children and families in your setting embrace messy play by getting outside and celebrating International Mud Day on June 29.
As early childhood educators, we know that supporting children’s social-emotional development is crucial to their success in the primary grades, their relationships, their choice-making, and in essence, life. Every child has his own unique challenges in developing a sense of responsibility, self-regulation, and self-care. As we support children’s personal growth, we also need to consider how to encourage them to care for one another and for the world at large.
by Teresa Narey
Pots of gold, shamrocks, and rainbows are symbols of St. Patrick’s Day that are ripe with learning material. Kick your St. Patrick’s Day celebration up a notch with these fun preschool math activities.
by Teresa Narey
The holiday of Purim is arguably the most joyous day of the Jewish year. Purim marks the time that Queen Esther helped save the Jewish people from being harmed by Haman, a confidant to King Achashverosh, who did not agree with the customs of Jewish people. (You can read a detailed account of the story here.) If you are approaching Purim from a Christian lens, it is helpful to know that King Achashverosh is referred to as King Xerxes in the book of Esther in the New International Version of the Bible (it will also explain variations in the spellings of certain names).