If you don't yet have an account with ProSolutions Training, please fill in your first and last name (as you would like them
to appear on your certificate when you complete a course), an email address, and a password. Your email address will be your
username whenever you return to the site, and we will use it to contact you, if necessary. To
protect your information, you should use your personal email account, and not an address you share with other people.
This account is all you need to get started: purchase courses, view coursework, take tests, and print certificates!
It’s so much fun celebrating the different cultures, foods, and traditions that come with the holiday season. Warm and fuzzy memories come to mind as celebrations begin.
Every classroom is diverse, with children coming from a variety of vibrant cultures and backgrounds.
When it comes to a holiday celebration in the classroom, you might be asking yourself, “how do I make sure every child feels included,” and “how do I not offend anyone?”
Think of the situation in a positive way. Having children from a variety of backgrounds in your class is an amazing learning opportunity. You can demonstrate to your students about how their classmates might celebrate this time of year in a way that's different from what they're used to at home. You get to show them how everyone can come together to enjoy and honor those traditions.
So, what’s the secret? How is it possible to include every culture and tradition? What should these holiday celebrations even look like?
Keep reading to discover 4 ways to celebrate the diversity in your classroom this holiday season.
1. Embrace the differences
Your first thought might be to treat each student the same. To lump them all together into a generic holiday celebration that never allows the mentioning of words like “Christmas” or “Hannukah.”
However, this doesn’t level the playing field as well as you might think. According to EdWeek, trying to ignore the differences connected to nationality or ethnicity may be dismissing a key part of a child's personality and heritage.
For some children, their holiday celebrations may be one of the few times they express their religious or cultural customs - their "story." It’s important these children feel proud of where they come from, and comfortable enough to celebrate in their own special way.
Knowing and learning about classmates’ cultural backgrounds, religions, families, and traditions can also reduce fear and increase empathy. It creates a platform where students can ask questions and break down stereotypes.
2. Have a cultural show-and-tell
What child doesn’t love show-and-tell? Your students will be excited to talk about their culture this way. Have them bring in an object (with the permission of a parent/guardian) that means something to their family during the holidays. It will give the class a glimpse into their family’s unique traditions.
Or you can go even bigger. Have parents, relatives, or other guests come in and share their stories about how they celebrate holidays. You can send home a letter at the beginning of December inviting them to visit and share photos of their celebrations and decorations. Or have them talk about their favorite family traditions and recipes, and special memories. Inviting guest speakers into the classroom can help children make connections to the big world outside of the classroom, learn about different perspectives, and discover new interests.
3. Read books celebrating different cultures
There are many wonderful children’s books out there. Books that can teach life lessons or introduce children to new concepts in a gentle and positive way. Check out this list of books that teach children about different holiday cultures and traditions:
It’s really important to tie everything together. After you discuss the differences, carve out time to talk about the similarities. The big-picture themes like family, tradition, and reverence can be identified in some way across every nationality and culture. Children can make the key observation that despite differences, they’re more alike than they might think. By focusing on similarities, children can create connections and build relationships that go beyond cultural differences.
In 2021, Public School Review put out The Guide to a Politically Correct Holiday Classroom Party. Here, you can read the list of things that could be considered offensive. Candy canes, reindeer, green and red cups and plates, snowflakes… But instead of worrying about the never-ending list of things that are potentially offensive (trust me, it could take until next holiday season to get through the huge list), focus on the students. Ask them what little things are special to them during the holidays and try to incorporate at least one thing from each child.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) gives an excellent idea of creating your own unique class celebrations, like “Thanking the People Who Make Our School Work” or “Honoring Our Families” get-togethers. This is a great way for every child to be able to participate in shared special days with the rest of the class.
Most importantly, remember that celebrating diversity is not a one-and-done deal. Diversity should be embedded into your program throughout the year and not just during the holidays. Practice some of these simple ideas from day one to ensure each child is learning about different cultures while becoming proud of their own.