Holiday celebrations can be wonderful opportunities for children to learn about the traditions and values that are cherished parts of people's lives. But many early childhood professionals wonder what holidays to celebrate in the program or classroom and how to respect the cultures represented by all children. Many parents, too, wonder why programs celebrate specific holidays or why they discourage any celebration at all.
NAEYC believes that decisions about what holidays to celebrate are best made together by teachers, parents, and children. Families and staff are more comfortable when both have expressed their views and understand how a decision has been reached. The important thing for all to remember is that when planning holiday activities, the rules of good practice continue to apply: Are the activities meaningful to the children? Are their needs and interests being met? Is the activity a valuable use of children's time?
Teachers may survey families at the beginning of the year to determine what holidays to celebrate. They may even ask the children to create their own holiday to help them learn the concepts that underlie such valued traditions. In any case, holiday celebrations are just one way for programs and families to work together to create developmentally and culturally appropriate learning experiences.
Here are some signs of good practice in celebrating holidays:
Parents and teachers ask themselves why children should learn about this holiday. Is it developmentally appropriate for those in the group? Why is it important to specific children and families?
Activities are connected to specific children and families in the group. This helps children understand holiday activities in the context of people's daily lives. Children should have the chance to explore the meaning and significance of each holiday.
Children are encouraged to share feelings and information about the holidays they celebrate. This will help them make the distinction between learning about another person's holiday rituals and celebrating one's own holidays. Children may participate as "guests" in holiday activities that are not part of their own cultures.
Every group represented in the classroom is honored (both children and staff). This does not mean that every holiday of every group must be celebrated or classrooms would be celebrating all the time! It does mean that once families and programs have decided on what holidays to celebrate, none should be treated as if they are "unusual." Children should recognize that everyone's holidays are culturally significant and meaningful.
Activities demonstrate the fact that not everyone in the same ethnic group celebrates holidays in the same way. Families may provide examples of their own unique traditions.
Curriculum demonstrates respect for everyone's customs. If children are observing different holidays at the same time, the values and traditions of each child's culture should be acknowledged.
Parents and teachers work together to plan strategies for children whose families' beliefs do not permit participation in holiday celebrations. Families should take part in creating satisfactory alternatives for the child within the classroom.
Focus is on meaningful ways to celebrate holidays without spending money. Families may find certain holidays stressful due to the amount of commercialization and the media pressure to buy gifts. Teachers can help by showing children that homemade costumes and gifts are very special, and celebrating can be joyful without gifts.
To view source and additional information, visit: http://www.pbs.org/kcts/preciouschildren/diversity/read_celebrating.html
The "literate home" for this age child only needs a few inexpensive materials, but parent involvement is key. Your young child or kindergartner continues to build her language base (understanding and using language) in preparation for learning to read, so she still benefits from lots of talk with adults that helps her learn new words. Young children and kindergartners are beginning to figure out how the written word works, and they are starting to use reading and writing in their daily lives. At this age, having a wide variety of books and writing materials available is crucial.
Dinner time can be the most stressful time of the day if you have a picky eater. It can be hard to find ways to get your kids to try new foods. Maybe you have a child that won’t eat any type of vegetable, or anything green, or no potatoes. It can really be anything that can get some kids to refuse to eat. If it isn’t nugget shaped, I can’t taste good. Right?
To see full article: http://totallythebomb.com/ways-to-get-your-kids-to-try-new-foods
In honor of April being National Poetry month, here is a topic on reading poems to your children.
Young children enjoy many kinds of poems. And as they listen, they hear rhythms, sounds, and language patterns important for literacy development.
Encourage rhyming. Read a short rhyming poem. As you reread it, stop before reading the second rhyming word to invite your child to finish the rhyme himself. It’s OK if children suggest words that don’t make sense or don’t rhyme.
Learn new words. Read a poem that introduces a new word or uses a familiar word in an unusual way. Ask, “Do you know what this word means? What other words could you use instead?”
Talk about what poems might mean. Some poems describe emotions or moods children have experienced. Others describe nature. Some have more than one meaning. After reading a poem, ask, “What do you think the poet was feeling? Have you ever felt like that?” Or "What do you think the poet was describing?"
Create poems. Discuss interests and feelings. Or go outside to find an inspiration in nature. Write down your child's words as she says them. Offer art materials so your child can illustrate her work. Remember, poems do not have to rhyme and can be about anything at all.
Encourage the poet within your child with these poetry books and ideas.
To view the poetry books as well as the source of article go to: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/reading-writing/read-little-poem
Think back to when you were a child. How often were you told "no"? It probably felt frustrating and discouraging. Think of the children in your classroom now. How often are they told "no"? Are they—and you—able to enjoy your day together if you have to say "no" all the time?
When a classroom environment is set up so that teachers have to constantly say "no" to the children, it is stressful for everyone. The teacher stops being a facilitator of the children's play and learning, and instead becomes a police officer, monitoring what the children can and cannot do. To reduce this stress, a classroom must provide an environment where the children are able to feel successful through opportunities to explore without the limitations of adult expectations.
There are four important parts to a "yes" environment: respect for the child, process instead of product, opportunities for risk-taking, and the teacher's role in the classroom. Being thoughtful and intentional about implementing these qualities in the classroom allows for less stress and more success, for both the children and their teachers.
Read full article at: http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2015/creating-a-yes-environment
For very young children, music has power and meaning that go beyond words. First, and most important, sharing music with young children is simply one more way to give love and receive love. Music and music experiences also support the formation of important brain connections that are being established over the first three years of life (Carlton 2000). In this article, we explore the many ways that music promotes growth in the various developmental domains and how infant/toddler professionals can use music experiences to support children’s early learning.
Number sense is one of the most difficult concepts to teach young children. Why? Because it's abstract.
For children to grasp number sense, they need to understand that an abstract symbol (the number 3 or 8, for example) means an amount or quantity that could apply to anything. They need to learn that the number 7 can stand for the girls in the room, cups in a box, blocks on a table, pieces of a puzzle or how many scrapes they have on their leg. And they need to learn that a 6 stands for fewer things than a 9, even though there's no way to understand that just by looking at the numbers themselves.
But once children develop number sense, wow! -- their math abilities can really take off!
Young learners love knowing that numbers can represent everything from a single, little pebble in the palm of their hand to the billions of grains of sand on a beach. For curious children and those who truly understand what numbers and their symbols represent, numbers are like magic!
To teach number sense to your young child, begin with the numbers 1 to 10 because we use a base 10 system, and these are the numbers that young learners are most familiar with. Try to give your child as many oral -- and visual -- counting experiences as possible during his or her first five years.
Read full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-palacios/children-making-sense-of-_b_6264096.html