Celebrating Diversity at Preschools in Parkland
During the month of December, a number of religious and cultural holidays are celebrated by families across the country. This presents an ideal opportunity for preschools in Parkland to teach preschoolers about the importance of respecting different cultures and celebrating diversity.
Tolerance for Toddlers
Teaching children about various cultural practices from a young age is an important element of their early childhood development. It is natural for toddlers to begin noticing differences between themselves and others as they learn about the world around them. Helping them to understand and accept diversity early on in life will go a long way to ensuring that they are a well-adjusted child. Young children tend to perceive the religious and cultural practices adopted in their own homes as the norm – teaching them about religious and cultural holidays other than their own is a useful way to expand their worldviews. Exposing preschoolers to different cultures and religions will also allow them to explore their own identities.
Teaching preschoolers about religious and cultural holidays
Teaching preschoolers about the various holidays celebrated in December is a valuable exercise, not only because it encourages appreciation for diversity, but because a number of educational tools can be incorporated into lessons. Creative crafts, storytelling, play performances, experimenting with festive foods, singing and other interactive elements are great ways in which the learning process can be facilitated. And, the lessons don’t have to end in the classroom – as a parent, there are a number of activities you can use to continue to educate your child about different cultures during the holiday season. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Christmas: Many children associate Christmas with Santa Claus, without understanding the true meaning behind the Christian holiday. Reading your child an age-appropriate nativity story is an easy way to help them understand what is being celebrated by the holiday. Helping them to create their own nativity scene using craft materials, or teaching them carols, are also fun and interactive options to consider.
- Hanukkah: You can teach your child about Hanukkah by reading them the story of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Help your child to draw a menorah (nine-branched candle) and explain how each branch relates to the victory of the Maccabees. You could also make latkes (potato pancakes eaten during Hanukkah) or teach your child how to play with a dreidel (a traditional Jewish spinning top which symbolically teaches children about the miracle of Hanukkah).
- Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday which celebrates the history of African Americans and African culture. The seven principles of Kwanzaa (unity, faith and creativity are a few) are a good starting point for any lesson on the holiday. Making a traditional Kwanzaa meal or making your own Kwanzaa decorations can also be incorporated into the activity.
- Las Posadas: Las Posadas is primarily celebrated in Mexican communities and is a nine-day festival which commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. As a craft activity, you could make a poinsietta (a flower typically used as decoration in Posadas celebrations) using red and green construction paper. Dressing up as Mary and Joseph with your child and re-enacting their search for an inn could also be an interactive way to learn about the holiday.
A universal holiday spirit for all
Remember that teaching your child about different religious and cultural holidays doesn’t mean that you have to celebrate them – but it does mean that you will be giving your child the opportunity to appreciate diversity and the unique ways in which people celebrate their identities across the world.