Celebrating holidays in an early child care setting can be a wonderful and meaningful way to establish community. All cultures honor events, people, and beliefs that hold significance in unique ways. This reality can promote shared interests and it can also pose challenges. Knowing which holidays to celebrate in your setting is important to respecting the diversity, traditions, and values of the families you serve. Having a consistent protocol for how to approach holidays will facilitate how you plan activities and celebrations in your setting and how you communicate with families.
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is the perfect time of year for family engagement and community-building in preschool settings. 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.
New Approaches to Holiday Celebrations
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
Do Cultural Holidays Belong in Your Child Care?
by Katie Brazerol
As the holidays approach, many child care providers struggle with the question, “Which holidays should I include in my setting?” The U.S. contains a wonderful mix of races, ethnicities, and cultures. Because of this, we are learning about more and more holiday traditions and customs beyond Santa and his eight reindeer. Many providers wonder how much cultural diversity they should provide in their settings, and how much is too much.