Helping students celebrate this time of year is a wonderful way to bring everyone together to share cultural celebrations and traditions. Consider using this time as an opportunity to teach diversity, tolerance, and inclusion, and to give your students the opportunity to discover the world beyond themselves. Here are a few tips for being inclusive of all students during the holidays:
Get to Know Your Students
Get to know your students’ cultural backgrounds and family traditions. By knowing your students well, you will also be able to relate to their unique customs and celebrations. Encourage students to share cultural celebrations and family traditions during Meet Up and Buddy Up. These discussions encourage discovery, and build respect and community in your classroom.
Use Multiple Resources to Explore Holiday Customs
Students enjoy learning about other customs and comparing them to their own experiences. Share a variety of books, stories, media, and online resources that provide different cultural aspects of holidays. Incorporate books with multicultural themes and different perspectives into classroom discussions and lessons.
Explore Holiday Themes that are Common to All Cultures
Discuss universal concepts like the importance of families, friendships, and the role of art, drama, music, and symbols to express emotions and to celebrate. For example, lights, trees, flowers, and food are symbolic of many cultures.
Many schools have very diverse populations of families. Sharing the cultural traditions of your families within the larger school community creates a welcoming and respectful school environment. This will also help students discover their commonalities and differences as they get to know one another. Use your Home School Connection news to let family members know your class will be sharing different cultural celebrations as a way to embrace diversity and create an inclusive classroom community. Have children interview family members about traditions they celebrated as children and create a class book of family traditions. Invite family members to visit your classroom to share holiday stories, traditions, and artifacts.
Be sure to follow school and district protocol and understand the policies in regard to religious holidays in the classroom. Information including how and when holidays are celebrated, their origins, and their histories can be shared with students. Celebrating specific religious practices is not appropriate in many schools. The overall focus should be on helping students appreciate both the diversity and similarities of our global traditions.
Sharing a variety of cultural traditions, customs, and stories helps to build a foundation for inclusion, respect, and community. We also help students develop their own culturally sensitive skills and appreciate the diversity that our global cultures bring to our lives.