Holiday celebrations are an important part of an ongoing preschool curriculum, based on what is significant in a child’s family, school, and community. Friends, classmates, and family members feel a special bond while gathering to cook, eat, sing, or just be together. Important rituals develop through the years as these groups celebrate.
Given the value of celebrating in the classroom and home, it is especially important to adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Celebrations must be relevant to the children. Pre-school age children do not understand the historical basis of holidays. They can only relate to the present. For example, a Thanksgiving celebration would need to focus simply on gathering as a family because pre-school children have no understanding of the significance of Pilgrims and Native Americans. Therefore, they do not belong in a pre-school celebration.
2. Celebrations must be relevant to families in our group. In meeting with parents, staff will be gathering information related to your family; what makes your family unique (i.e. holidays recognized, ethnicity, pets, food choices, family recreation, music). This information is used to plan for your child in the classroom or home environment.
3. Activities used in a celebration must be appropriate for the age of the children. Children’s interests and developmental abilities must be kept in mind. Holiday celebrations must be connected to children’s lives and other aspects of the curriculum. “Models” which children must copy from adults are never appropriate.
4. Pre-school children have a limited sense of time. We do not want to add to the holiday frenzy that every child experiences. Therefore, a time limit is placed on the celebration of holidays. We will celebrate for 2 or 3 days before the holidays with low-keyed types of family related activities. (Visits to/from Santa will remain a family activity).
5. Parent input is critical. We will be asking for your input as to how we can meaningfully celebrate with your children.
Finally let us not forget to be creative as we celebrate and mark occasions for children and families. It is of equal importance to celebrate a first tooth, a favorite story, the birth of a sibling, moving to a new house, or just the first snowflake of the season!