At this time of year, children often seem like they are swimming in a sea of excitement and anticipation. Just thinking about future activities and gifts can be over-stimulating for everyone, but it’s also a time for creating deep meaning and a more expansive understanding of others.
Our beautiful hallway display reminds us that our community contains families from many cultures and traditions, and this season provides the perfect time to talk about holidays from an inclusive perspective. Our school has been blessed with so much diversity, and the Equity and Inclusion Committee has worked all year to expand our awareness.
We also want to be mindful that for some people, the holidays can bring painful reminders of loved ones who aren’t with us anymore. Some families are coping with serious illnesses or job losses and economic challenges. Let’s work as a community to help children gain understanding of others and the ability to meet each day with calm and kindness.
Here are some suggestions for making it a rewarding season for everyone:
Plan social activities together
Involving children in planning helps them to handle holiday activities with more resilience. Think about your child’s temperament and ways of processing excitement as you plan for social activities. How can you program in down time? How can social situations be planned so children can opt out of activities when they get tired? Be aware of signs of sensory overload and ways of escaping from situations that feel overwhelming. Stay with normal routines.
Talk about different cultural and religious traditions
Talking about diversity and varied cultural traditions helps children to grow up more knowledgeable in a pluralistic society. The United States is the most religiously diverse country in the world.
Make wishes for the season and the new year
It’s fun to make wishes for things your family can do over the next weeks and the next year, but it’s also fulfilling to make wishes for others. What about wishes for children in Ukraine? Wishes for children who are hospitalized? Let everyone in the family make a wish, and record them to review over the year.
Make physical and emotional well-being priority
Talk about the effects of eating healthy food and how our bodies feel if we eat too much sugar. Tune children to their bodies to pay attention to feel cold and tired but also to their emotional state, feeling over-excited, anxious, or stressed. Emphasize physical exercise over the holidays and into the new year. Plan ways for ways to have daily emotional check-ins. What’s going right? How can we expand that sense of well-being?