Christmas may be the premiere holiday in Christian circles, but how do we make children of other faiths feel included during this time of year when it seems everywhere we look are Santa Claus visits, stockings on fireplaces and presents under decorated trees?

Holidays are not universal, and each deserves its own respect. Perhaps alongside the traditional Christmas plays and glitter-covered gifts for family members, we need to teach that other religions have other high holidays – and some of them don’t occur in December.

Placing the lessons alongside Santa and a manger scene includes children otherwise left wondering where the beliefs taught at home fit in the world around them.

By connecting the overarching themes of the holidays in each religion or cultural celebration, educators can demonstrate that celebrations are a show of pride in family and community. Teaching about their similarities helps draw the connections between the human experience around the world. Demonstrating their differences begins the teaching of tolerance.

Four tips for educators to promote diversity and inclusivity during Christmas

1

Have a conversation with the families in your centre about their preferences at this time of year

Some may be members of “minority” religions and others might not celebrate at all for religious or financial reasons. Based on a 2010 world population study by The Pew Forum, 31% of the world identifies as Christian, 23% as Muslim, 16% as having no religious affiliation and 15% Hindu, suggesting the need for diversity in our programs beyond the Christian ideals of Christmas.
2

Learning about a holiday and celebrating it are different

When learning about a holiday, a child studies how and why other families in his/her class or community honor specific traditions. Celebrating a holiday, on the other hand, requires that the child take part in activities and implies that he accepts the basic associated underlying principles.
3

A cross, menorah, Buddha or any other religious symbol is not a decoration.

To respect families of all faiths, we should use them as teaching tools, but refrain from decorating with them.
4

Educating about cultural diversity is just as important as teaching about religious diversity

When we talk about the new year on the Gregorian calendar, we can discuss the importance of the Chinese New Year, typically celebrated in February for 15 days, and how it is celebrated. Noting important differences between cultural celebrations teaches tolerance for people whose ways are foreign from our own.

Tot Tok (www.tot-tok.com) is a data-driven web and mobile-based platform that promotes personalised learning and development of children in their early years. The tool empowers educators and parents to create a stimulating learning experience for children based on their unique needs and requirements.

Tot Tok works across multiple devices and operating systems, and offers a simple dashboard to educators and parents to actively contribute to the child’s development and progress.

Jean McCorkle

Author Jean McCorkle

More posts by Jean McCorkle

Leave a Reply