I’m the first person to say that I love celebrating holidays – in my personal life that’s definitely something that I’m known for, and it feels natural for me to incorporate that into the classroom. While it is something that I love, there are a variety of reasons that holidays might not be appropriate for the preschool classroom. Some programs don’t allow teachers and students to celebrate in order to create a space where all of the families that they serve feel welcome. Others have specific funding streams that require no holidays be acknowledged, and still others will eliminate these to support specific families and staff. These are all completely valid, and increasingly becoming more of the norm. So what does the classroom look like when holidays aren’t an option? Does this mean that all of those adorable projects you see on Pinterest and Instagram are out of the question?
There truly isn’t a right way to answer these questions! So much will depend on the requirements of your program, the families you work with, and your own comfort levels. How you manage these situations will evolve over time, and that’s ok! Each situation is different, and the more you learn about the subject, the better equipped you’ll be to make very nuanced decisions.
A great rule of thumb is always to let the children lead. When they’re directing the explorations you can lean into these for more organic lessons. If they’re excited by snow, then learning about things that are cold makes perfect sense.
If you do feel the need to introduce themes related to certain holidays – like thankfulness and gratitude, love, or giving – then by all means explore those values without the trappings of the holiday. Love can be discussed without pink and red hearts, and gratitude doesn’t have to go along with a turkey!
Sometimes we lean on holidays because they make planning easier, there are just so many creative options available. Many of these can still be used at similar times of the year without any mention of their associated holiday. Rainbows or things that are green can be relevant and appropriate in March, without the shamrocks and leprechauns. Similarly, reindeer and arctic animals make perfect sense in the cold months.
Holidays can be fun for teachers and children, but there are so many other ways to make learning fun. After getting creative, you may realize that you don’t even miss them!