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Working Together to Create Anti-Bias Holiday Celebrations in Early Childhood Education

By Mignon Ero-Phillips, Assistant Director, YWCA Children’s Center at Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning
November 15, 2017
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Many Holidays for Many Backgrounds and Cultures

YWCA Minneapolis Early Childhood Education program serves a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds including Somali, Latino, Ethiopian, Russian, Muslim, American, Korean, Karen and many more. Our focus on cultural awareness ties to back to YWCA’s mission and values to embrace people of all cultures and backgrounds. YWCA Minneapolis strives to recognize and celebrate the different holidays our children and families observe.

Celebrating Holidays Respectful and Reflective of All

With time and effort YWCA Children’s Center directors, teachers and staff work together to create a display of different holidays and exchanges of thoughtful ideas that are respectful to everyone. We take extra care that the holidays celebrated reflect all of our children and families.

It requires initiating meaningful conversations.

It takes practice listening to and learning from people in our programs.

Continued Communication and Creation with Families

The goal is for staff and families to work together to create holiday activities which reflect families currently in the program. We facilitate parental involvement by asking parents to share which holidays they celebrate in their homes and how they would suggest incorporating those holidays into the classrooms.

Keys to creating anti-bias holiday celebrations include:

  • Everyone engages in respectful dialogue
  • Be open to new ideas beyond your individual perspectives
  • Be flexible; try new ways of observing holidays

When staff engages with each other and families in these ways, they are more likely to have ownership in the program’s holiday policy and activities.

Keep Anti-Bias Education Goals in Mind

Celebrating holidays in an anti-bias way can be challenging. Using anti-bias education goals as a framework for constructing holiday activities can be helpful.

Here are some goals used at YWCA Minneapolis to consider:

Goal #1 — Identity/ SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride and positive social or group identities.

Goal #2 — Diversity/ SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT / CREATIVITY AND THE ARTS: Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity, accurate language for human differences and deep, caring human connections.

Goal #3 — Justice/ LANGUAGE & LITERACY Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness (injustice), develop language to describe unfairness and understand that unfairness hurts.

Goal #4 — Activism/ LANGUAGE & LITERACY/ APPROACHES TO LEARNING: Each child will demonstrate a sense of empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and discriminatory actions.

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