The holiday time is my favorite part of the year! I always look forward to the time spent with my family, especially the ones that live far from me. This time is full of treats, gifts, and lights. The school is dressed with decorations and families saying “happy holidays” to each other. The time leading up to Christmas break is fast paced, exciting and leaves me as giddy as my toddlers.
I do feel that we sometimes forget that not everyone in the community celebrates Christmas though. Thankfully, as a Montessori school, we celebrate everyone and all cultures. But how do we teach the children this? Ms. Maggie, what’s a dreidel? So it’s not all about Santa?!
In the classroom, we invite all of our families to present the traditions they have created. The children love when we have visitors, and welcome the parents into their world on the edge of their chairs, waiting to hear what they have brought. The parents themselves are happy to share and explain more into what they do celebrate their holidays. In the past, we have had families come to show us how they celebrate Diwali, Hanukah, and other celebrations of the year. . We fill our classroom shelves and circle time conversations with the multitude of different holidays that come in the month of December. Accepting other traditions and learning about them is a way to create an understanding of others If we were to push Christmas and our individual ideas on everyone, then we would not be different. America is a giant melting pot of people, who are all different, and its time we celebrate these differences.
The holiday season is also for giving back and creating peace in your community. Giving your time to others who may be in need of love and support can possibly change someone’s day or life. If we are working on creating peaceful, helpful, humans then we need to model for them what it is like to give back. During the year, our school does many “CharMont gives back” activities that support our community. The children get to be a part of this through collecting food for the hungry, coats for those who may not have one, and even school items for children who do not have them. Instead of worrying about the big fancy presents that you can’t wait for family members to open, try giving that energy back to the community in a positive way. I remember as a small child, creating Christmas boxes for my church to send to children. The memories I have of getting to personally pick out items to put in my box for the child are happy memories that I hope to pass on to my future children so that maybe one day, they will make their own boxes to send to a child in need.
Creating a dialogue with your child about the reasons behind the traditions that your family has will hopefully keep them alive. Also talking about the traditions that we celebrate in the school will help them to accept others and not just solely their own.