Are Your Holiday Celebrations Inclusive?
The holiday season is here and many classroom celebrations are underway this week as schools are about to break for a couple of weeks. However important areas to consider when planning celebrations include:
- Food intolerance and allergies
- Ethnic and religious diversity
- Economic disparities
During the holidays many schools offer family nights such as skating, swimming, or tobogganing or holiday concerts or plays that students can perform for their families. Is your school also offering classroom celebrations that are more inclusive and respectful of all students? There are many ways to celebrate:
- Hold multicultural celebrations that recognize the diverse beliefs of students. Use holidays as a way to learn about similarities and differences in a non-judgmental way. What a great opportunity for students to learn about different cultures, customs and beliefs throughout the year!
- Use celebrations as a way to highlight beliefs that are common to everyone such as kindness and helping others and the importance of family rather than specific religious or social practices. Host a food or toy drive to donate to a local charity. Create thank you notes for family, friends, the bus driver, custodian, etc.
- Focus celebrations on fun activities in general or accomplishments rather than a specific holiday. Hold a scavenger hunt in the classroom or around the school, play games, or dance to music. Children with allergies will also feel more included as the focus is not on food.
- Plan for crafts and activities related to the celebration. Have kids decorate the classroom with snowflakes or fall leaves during the winter and flowers during the springtime.
- If your celebration includes food, create a list of general healthy snack options such as popcorn, fresh fruit and vegetables, and cheese strings. Family contributions should be optional to include families with economic disparities. Maybe your parent council could sponsor a popcorn bar or hot chocolate station (made with milk or soy beverage).
Here’s to this holiday season and the invaluable teaching opportunities it holds!
For more information on inclusion, see Inclusion, Cultural Diversity and Religious/Faith-based Celebrations in School Communities
For healthy school celebration ideas visit: https://cspinet.org/resource/healthy-school-celebrations
Submitted by Pat MacIntosh, Registered Dietitian with Alberta Health Services