It would be too easy and obvious to choose “The Holidays” as our theme for December, and since I have never been accused of being “obvious” or “easy” I thought we could explore the non-holiday approach to the holidays. Not always popular amongst teachers or parents, I still maintain it is the best way to get through the crazy month of December with young children.
Holidays are very personal. How we celebrate, who we celebrate with, and the meaning behind the celebrations is very specific to each family. That is why I believe that these are best celebrated at home and not at school/childcare.
I have heard all of the arguments FOR bringing the holidays into school but have you heard all off the arguments AGAINST it? For me, one of the most important reasons is that we cannot give equal time to everyone’s ideas of what the holidays mean. Do we give two weeks to making Christmas decorations for trees? Or, do we light candles for each day of Kwanzaa? How do we incorporate all of the wishes of all of the families in an equal and fair manner?
But the most important reason is that for the most part, young children have a very limited understanding of the holidays other than the notion of getting presents, if that is a part of their tradition. Nearly everything else associated with this time of the year is meaningful to adults because of their memories of holidays during their childhoods. The vast majority of those memories are memories from HOME, not school. School memories come much later and are usually superficial (the Turkey centerpiece made out of an old milk carton).
Next week, we will look at keeping things simple during this time. December can be a very hectic time for families so ensuring that school is an island of calm will be a welcome relief to parents.