Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why I Introduce a Variety of Holidays on my Facebook Page

When I first started teaching, the only holidays and events that I celebrated in my classroom were Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and a few times I celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Even though I had a diverse group of students in my class; I never asked the parents what they did on December 25th, I just assumed everyone celebrated the holiday.

As I grew as a teacher and a professional, I realized that I was overlooking the diversity in my classroom and not observing each student's culture. So, even though I don't introduce and celebrate each holiday or celebration I at least educate myself on most holidays, celebrations and cultural events throughout the world and provide picture books to educate other teachers on my Facebook page. I also introduce and celebrate those holidays in my classroom.

Since we have such a diverse group of students in Early Childhood, I think that it is important to cover most holidays that some students might celebrate, including religious holidays that might not represent the Christian way of celebrations.

Although I try not to incorporate the religion aspect of the holiday into my classroom discussion, I do try to incorporate things that the students will understand and can be added to the curriculum. For example; For the Persian New Year, they set-up a table which consist of seven items that start with the letter 'S,' each one of these items represent something that the students can relate to, and be brought into the classroom for discussion and maybe even to taste.  They are:

1. Sabzeh- sprouts 
2. Seeb- an apple
3. Sumac- a sour spice 
4. Seer- garlic
5. Sohan- a pistachio cookie
6. Senjed- a fruit of the lotus tree
7. Sehk- coins

There are other things on the table too; a mirror, candles, colored eggs, water, and goldfish. Each thing on the table represents something good for the coming year- new life, health, prosperity, and happiness.

Information like this can easily be introduced and discussed in your classroom; it may even be possible to include the parents’ intake on how their family celebrates the holiday. I have also noticed that most holidays celebrate the seasons which can also be incorporated into your curriculum.

I found the celebration Rasksha Bandhan in India very interesting; it is a celebration of brothers and sisters.
You will also find information for Jewish Holidays on my page, since being Jewish is not only a religion but also a culture. 

It is important that all students feel a part of the community that they are in, discussing Chinese Independence Day or Cinco de Mayo will help those students who actually celebrate those holidays feel a part of the classroom. Getting the parents involved and asking about their family traditions will also make the student feel like their traditions and cultural practices are important and valued.

I understand that most parents might not want their child subjected to other religious beliefs that are different from their own. So, I try to combine the importance of the holiday for that culture with things that can become teachable moments and leave out information that can be explained by the parent. I also offer picture books that will help further explain the holiday or event if the teacher chooses to use them.

If you are interested in discussing information about World Holidays in your classroom, I invite you to my Facebook page at https://
Why wait until they are in elementary school to open them up to all the wonderful diversity in the world.

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