How to Manage Holidays in an Early Childhood Classroom

A family celebrates Kwanzaa at the table with crayons.

When it comes to holidays in an early childhood classroom, there’s a lot to consider. First and foremost, there should be a thoughtful and inclusive approach that respects diverse backgrounds, traditions, and family beliefs.

Here are some ideas to create a positive and inclusive holiday atmosphere in an early childhood setting:

Honor Diversity

Acknowledge and honor the uniqueness of your students and their families. Consider incorporating holidays and traditions from various cultures, and encourage families to share their customs.

Inclusive Decorations

Decorate the classroom with a variety of decorations that represent different holidays and celebrations. This can include symbols, colors, and crafts from various cultural traditions. Use the display as a teaching tool. Be sure children understand the decorations and what they mean. Don’t just put things up to be up, rather put things up to acknowledge the families in your program. A young girl with Chinese New Year decorations

Teach About Different Holidays

Introduce children to the customs, stories, and significance of holidays celebrated by their peers. This can be done through age-appropriate books, songs, and discussions. Ask families to share their traditions with your group via in-person events or virtual video conferencing.

Crafts and Art Projects

Plan art projects that allow children to create crafts related to different holidays. This hands-on approach fosters creativity and helps children learn about various traditions. Invite parents or family members into the classroom to share creative activities with the children. Hanukkah candle craft

Focus on Values

Emphasize universal values associated with the holiday season, such as kindness, generosity, and gratitude. Teach children about the importance of giving and helping others.

Engage Families

Survey families about their holiday traditions and customs. Provide questions in their home languages or utilize an interpreter if needed to make sure everyone has a chance to respond. Make time for them to share their culture with the class. This can be done through show-and-tell, guest readers, family participation in classroom activities, or recorded video clips.A family member video chats with their child's class about Kwanzaa

Respectful Language

Use inclusive and respectful language that encompasses various holidays and celebrations. Avoid assuming that all families celebrate the same holidays. Be curious and ask questions to learn more. Let families know children are learning about holidays, not necessarily celebrating them.

Plan Inclusive Events

If you’re hosting holiday events or parties, be mindful of each family in your class. Consider incorporating a variety of activities and foods that respect different dietary restrictions and cultural preferences. When possible, encourage families to share recipes or foods with each other. A spread of foods from a Diwali celebration

Create a Calendar

Develop a classroom holiday calendar that includes a range of activities throughout the year. This can help children and families anticipate and learn about different cultural events. Remind families to add important holidays to the calendar. wall calendar where families can add events or celebrations

Gift-Giving Considerations

If gift-giving is part of your classroom tradition, consider gifts that are neutral, such as books, educational materials, or homemade crafts. Be aware of cultural and religious sensitivities.

Promote Inclusivity in Music

Incorporate a variety of holiday music from different cultures and traditions. This can expose children to diverse musical styles and enhance their understanding of various celebrations. Bring in guests, family members, and friends to play instruments or share dances associated with holidays.

Open Communication

Maintain open communication with families about the holiday-related activities in the classroom. Ensure that families are comfortable with the content and activities planned. Provide opportunities for folks to share feedback anonymously as well.

Every Classroom in Unique and Its Celebrations are Too

Preschool children celebrating Christmas

Remember that it’s crucial to be flexible and responsive to the needs and preferences of the families in your classroom. By embracing a thoughtful and inclusive approach, you create a positive and respectful environment that honors the diversity of your students and their families.

Do you have a holiday experience or idea to share? Let us know in the comments!

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