To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET participating in holiday activities is to promise to give them ample notice if they choose to keep their child home on a holiday activity day. Or we may choose to respect parents’ or guardians’ wishes that their child not sing in the holiday pageant by “inviting” that child to visit another classroom while all of their friends are practicing for the big show. At first glance, these might seem like perfect solutions. After all, aren’t we listening to and respecting the wishes of families and protecting their children from having to choose between their families’ cultural or religious beliefs and what the other children are doing? However, this approach results in fami- lies who must take time off from work to stay home with their children and children who feel ostracized and embarrassed when they are separated and excluded from their classmates. In several of my holiday workshops, I’ve listened to Jewish adults who have recounted painful memories of such exclusions in classrooms where the air was abuzz with Christmas. They recalled the Christmas decorations on bulletin boards, the Christmas tree in the corner of the room, the invitations to partic- ipate in making Christmas ornaments or painting Christmas wrapping paper. Because they didn’t celebrate Christmas, they were instead invited to a small table in the corner of the room, where they could decorate a Star of David with blue and white paint, or they were sent to another classroom of children they didn’t know, where they sat quietly at a table while that class participated in its usual non-holiday activities, until the Jewish children could return to their now Christmas activity–free classroom and rejoin their peers. While these adults spoke of these experiences, they often cried or turned the embarrassment and isolation they felt into anger that they had been made to feel like their families’ beliefs were wrong and that they were less important than the children who celebrated Christmas. Is this what we want for the children and families we serve? Yet it continues to happen in many programs to children from many backgrounds. TRAP # 5 : JUST SAYING NO Because of these many difficulties, it is becoming more and more common today for early childhood directors and program supervisors to put a stop to all holiday activities. It’s not hard to understand why. A program may include a myriad of families with seemingly opposing positions, and staff may feel over- whelmed and believe that attempts to meet everyone’s needs are futile. Imagine a program, just like many others in the United States, where sev- eral different strongly held beliefs operate simultaneously. In this program, you may have teachers who are eager to share their personal holiday traditions with the children, and parents who are concerned about that because of the position of power teachers hold. The parents worry that their children will learn that the “right” holidays to celebrate, and sometimes the “right” religion to practice, are those of the classroom teachers instead of the families’ own. In 18 CHAPTER 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL