Last week, I talked with you about families of all kinds and about fostering an acceptance and appreciation of differences in very young children. This week I'm focussing on celebrations and the various ways that families enjoy them. These activities can be repeated, re-done, and done again for an entire month or longer. One activity does not do it for very young ones. The idea here is to create an attitude of celebrating differences, instead of being critical of things we don't fully understand.
The best way to approach this in my opinion is to ask a nosy question of the adults. Here are some examples.
What are some of the major events and holidays you celebrate in your family? Is there a part of this you'd like to share? Are there things that you don't celebrate?
These are general questions designed to get you thinking about how you as a teacher, a parent, a relative, or anyone else in the lives of very young children can explore and learn about celebrations that are different from the ones they're used to.
It's always best to get an idea of what could be done with very young children by working closely with an adult that has first-hand knowledge of whatever it is you're learning about. That way you won't be getting it wrong. Remember, young children like to do and experience rather than listen and learn.
Spending a month and 1/2 doing Christmas activities and exactly 1 day doing activities for any other celebration is a weak attempt at inclusion and will probably not do much to develop an anti-bias attitude in young children. It's our attitude that matters to them.
Using a "tourist approach" to explore cultural differences doesn't help either. Young children don't find things interesting just because we say they should. Talking about a far-away country is too much for them to fathom.
But they do have a lot of interest in what their friends do and especially what they do in their families. This is the key that can open the doors to appreciation.
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Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.