Teaching Children How to Honor Holidays of All Cultures
Holiday celebrations are wonderful opportunities for children to learn about the traditions and values that are important components of people’s lives. Many early childhood education professionals struggle with which holidays to celebrate in the classroom and how to respect the cultures represented by their students. Many families, too, wonder why we celebrate specific holidays and how they can help reinforce the importance of honoring and respecting the holidays of others.
Parents, Teachers and Children Working Together
YWCA Minneapolis believes that decisions about which holidays to celebrate in the classroom are best made together by teachers, parents, and children.
Teachers may survey families to determine which holidays to celebrate. Some classrooms have “Family Tradition” days and ask each family to share a tradition from their family. This is a way to be inclusive of all children, even those who do not celebrate holidays. Traditions can be around any family ritual, such as reading bedtime stories or family game night, and not be just holiday centered.
Curriculum Based on Respect
Our early childhood education curriculum demonstrates respect for everyone’s customs. If children are observing different holidays at the same time, the values and traditions of each child’s culture should be acknowledged.
Children are encouraged to share how these celebrations make them feel and what they know about the holidays they celebrate. This helps them to make the distinction between learning about another person’s holiday rituals and celebrating one’s own holidays. Children may choose to participate as “guests” in holiday activities that are not part of their own cultures.
Building a Culture of Inclusion
By introducing the concepts of respect, curiosity and understanding at an early age, YWCA Minneapolis hopes to teach the importance of inclusion to even our youngest students. The holidays are a great time to learn about the many ways families in their community participate in holiday celebrations related to their unique cultures. Learning the values of inclusion and kindness now helps children continue to grow into thoughtful and respectful adults.