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How Do You Celebrate?


This month, the Raise Montana team has spent time talking about and learning how to have a culturally inclusive and responsive holiday season. I was hoping to share some resources and tips here for you that you can apply to your programs or within your own homes.


We live in a beautiful world full of diversity. However, it would be overwhelming (and perhaps impossible) to celebrate and honor every holiday and tradition around the world. There is an easier way that we can include everyone in our lives, though. It can be as easy as talking and asking questions.


It’s great to give young children an introduction to celebrations around the world if you are able. But I would highly recommend starting small, especially for young learners, and starting with the celebrations that are close to the hearts of the children and families that you encounter each day. Hopefully you ask questions about celebrations and holidays acknowledged by families at the beginning of the school year in your intake forms. If not, no problem! A special celebration form or survey can be passed around or emailed to get to know the children and families you work with. If possible, do this early in the year for families whose celebrations might not be during the Winter months.


Check out this video of children sharing their special celebrations. This can easily be done in a classroom once a week, or one day during circle time, or even for a special family event.


Here are some other tips and strategies that the Raise Montana team has learned this month:


  • Ask families what they celebrate and what they might NOT feel comfortable celebrating

  • Open your own heart and mind to new ideas and ways of doing things

  • Don't just rely on the families to teach you about their traditions or celebrations; do a little of your own learning, too

  • Celebrate families and diversity all year long, no matter the month or the season

  • Be creative about finding local experts or going on field trips to new places that might showcase art or music

  • Make families visible in your classroom whether that be by adding real pictures of them or having books, dolls, music, and other visuals that celebrate all children and families

  • Figure out how to include all of the children in your school even if their tradition is not holiday related, for example, a special family tradition during winter might be making a specific food or going on a trip

  • Come up with a classroom holiday or annual tradition that everyone can be involved in! This idea is from Anti-Bias Education and Holidays: Making Thoughtful Decisions

  • Books are my favorite resource for holidays and celebrations. Check out this book that specifically teaches about Harvest Days: Giving Thanks Around the World



Finally, even if you have a classroom full of children who ALL celebrate Christmas, it’s still important to know that even Christmas can look different in each household. Ask families what makes their holiday unique. Some children might have two Christmases at different homes, some might combine Christmas and Kwanzaa, some might celebrate Christmas but not in the religious aspect, and finally, an example from my own life: we live in a townhouse and my own daughter is VERY concerned about how Santa will get in here since we don’t have a chimney. Here is the perfect book that I will be ordering for my own collection.


"Santa in the City" book cover. A young African American girl catching snow on an apartment's balcony, while Santa walks across the roof.
"Santa in the City" book cover. A young African American girl catching snow on an apartment's balcony, while Santa walks across the roof.

 

Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, mama to a new baby boy, a busy preschooler, and a bonus mom to two amazing teenagers. She holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. Meghan is currently working part time with Raise Montana as a project specialist where she writes blogs, curriculum guides, and hosts the seasonal book clubs. Meghan is passionate about using her experience as an early childhood educator and as a mom to bring knowledge and inspiration to Montana child care providers.

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