Celebrating the holidays in a classroom can seem confusing because of the diversity of the students involved. Some celebrate Christmas while others focus on Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. A few may not celebrate any holidays at all. Whether students are fired up for holiday celebrations or know very little about the traditional celebrations of the students around them, teachers can use this time for educating about cultural traditions and for practicing an attitude of inclusivity among their students.
- First, teachers should understand as much as possible about their individual students as well as their family backgrounds. This should typically be done at the beginning of the school year with informational sheets that can be sent home and filled out by parents. However, teachers can also take extra time during this season to talk one-on-one with students to discover how they feel about the holidays.
- Second, teachers should make sure that they are including all students in classroom celebrations. It can be easy to focus on one favorite holiday, but this can cause other students to feel left out of classroom discussions and parties. Teachers can use classroom time to teach all students about each important cultural celebration and to discuss why it is important.
- Third, teachers can make sure that parents remain clued in to all that is happening in the classroom through take-home handouts or regular emails. Regular communication can improve trust between parents and teachers while easily clearing up confusion.
Above all, general classroom and special education teachers should make sure that they are having fun with holiday celebrations and teaching because their feelings will rub off on their students. Of course, this entire season can become stressful, but special needs children are particularly keyed in to these underlying emotions. By remembering that not all schoolwork may be getting done during these days and by setting aside time for classroom celebrations, teachers can create a lighthearted atmosphere.