What an exciting time of year! The children are bustling with holiday cheer here at school, just as I’m sure they are in your home as well. Classrooms are being decorated festively and holiday music can be heard spontaneously sung by the children in each classroom. While the holidays can be stressful, as there are many social engagements to attend, late bedtimes to adjust and lots of sweet treats to enjoy (sugar overload!), when examined, the ritual of the holidays can be seen as an important part of our culture and help the children connect to their time and place in the world and feel connected to their community.
Because holiday traditions vary greatly depending on cultural beliefs, these traditions teach children about their own culture and its values. Strong emotional attachments develop around these events, part of the deep-seated feelings of love and attachment to one’s family and community – this is particularly true for those children under age 6 who are still developing under the guidance of the Absorbent Mind.At school, we do not endorse a particular holiday tradition but rather each classroom creates their own holiday traditions based on the cultures represented in their classroom. Rituals in the classroom typically focus on seasonal activities, with the core of our traditions being based around the appreciation for the Winter Solstice. The teachers discuss with the children how bringing in evergreen branches (or trees) help to celebrate those plants that stay green all year long when other trees and plants have lost their leaves. The teachers also discuss how lighting candles, or setting up twinkling lights remind us that even though the night comes very quickly this time of year, the sun will slowly begin to return after the darkest day (Winter Solstice). Giving the children some concrete understanding that underline the reasons why certain traditions take place help them understand and therefore further embrace these traditions.
As we enter the last week of school before the Winter Break, please share with your child’s teacher any special rituals or activities that you feel may be appreciated in the classroom. In the past we have had parents bring in advent wreaths to view, menorahs to light and special books (non-religious) to share. Because this time of year is also a great time to think of those that may be alone or need some extra holiday cheer, the Elementary students and some of the oldest Toddler and Primary children will be visiting the Island Home Health and Rehabilitation Center (Retirement Home) to sing a selection of holiday songs. The citizens at the Center are extremely excited about our upcoming visit and I’m sure it will warm the children’s hearts to have an opportunity for their school community to share something with those in need. Bringing the children to the IHHRC will help connect the children to members of our community that are in need and put them in touch with the true spirit of the season.
Thank you all for a wonderful semester. Be safe and enjoy your time with family and friends!
Written by: Ella Jones