Holiday times can be both joyful and hectic, fun and intense—especially for your son or daughter. At this time of year, with cultural celebrations such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day on the horizon, you and your child are probably inundated by holiday-themed ads, glaring holiday displays in stores, and constant talk of toys and costumes. It can be overwhelming.
For parents and children alike, the classroom can either be another place where holiday talk is overwhelming—or it can provide a refreshing oasis of calming support and stability to balance out the seasonal rush that is easily found everywhere else in our culture during the holidays.
The Montessori Approach to Holiday Celebrations
Many parents wonder how holidays are addressed in the classrooms at Primary Montessori Day School. Do we celebrate all cultures? Do we change our daily routines during the holidays? What extra activities do parents and children need to plan for? Do we celebrate birthdays?
All of these questions are completely natural—and we are happy to answer them. In a nutshell, our cultural celebrations mirror the Montessori philosophy of “following the child.” We invite your child’s curiosity and expand their view of the world. And we balance holiday celebrations with our goal of providing a nurturing, stable environment that reverences every student equally.
What We Celebrate
In our society, much attention is given to a few special occasions, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Other holidays—such as Bodhi Day, Dongzhi, or Pancah Ganapati—may be overlooked or receive less attention in our overall culture. But that’s not true in our Montessori classrooms.
How we do it:
We celebrate everything at Primary Montessori Day School—Diwali, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Christmas—any cultural holiday represented by the students we work with. If a holiday is meaningful to one of our students, we highlight it—which benefits the development of all our students.
When We Celebrate
In traditional classrooms, holidays often are treated as special events that disrupt everyday routines. A sense of fun and community spirit may appear for a holiday, then take a back seat once the holiday is over. But Montessori educators take a more holistic approach.
How we do it:
A Montessori classroom provides daily opportunities for fun, engagement, and community. The spirit of giving and receiving is kept alive all year long, so that it permeates children’s lives.
When it comes to highlighting a cultural celebration, we weave the celebration into the general cultural studies we do—giving students a greater appreciation for the diversity of our world, as well as the values we share across cultures.
For birthday celebrations at Primary Montessori, we share your child’s story from birth, through various milestones, until we reach their current birthday. This encourages your child to see how special they are and how much they add to the world by being in it.
How We Celebrate
The ways a classroom may give attention to a holiday can vary greatly. It’s not uncommon for more traditional schools to take an all or nothing approach—either everyday tasks on an uneventful day, or parties and little lasting instruction on a holiday.
How we do it:
At Primary Montessori, we incorporate cultural celebrations with learning and other regular classroom activities so your child enjoys a sense of consistency and reliability.
Among the approaches we may take when celebrating holidays:
- Sharing about the particular holiday, its history, and how it is celebrated
- Doing a related art, music, or cooking project
- Presenting and discussing significant items related to the holiday celebration
Our teachers often make these presentations, but so can parents! While there is never any pressure to do so, we welcome you to come in and give a cultural holiday presentation if you so choose. This parental participation is a wonderful way to foster friendships and community among students and their families.
Cultural Studies Year by Year
At Primary Montessori, we mindfully build on your child’s growth each year that he or she is with us. Our goal is to ensure that all our students learn a significant amount about different cultures by the time they graduate from our programs.
We incorporate holiday studies into our overall general cultural studies, which includes:
- Covering different continents so your son or daughter learns about different regions of the world
- Crafting cultural curricula that build on the previous year’s lessons
- We offer a 3-year arc of cultural lessons for both our Primary and Elementary programs
In our Primary classroom:
Because we have three years with your son or daughter in our Primary program (ages 3 to 6), we can cover different aspects of a culture each year. When covering Asia, for example, we may offer your child in-depth studies on animals, music, and famous artists one year, and then invite your child to discover the biomes, clothing, and landmarks of Asia the following year.
Global holidays and cultural celebrations flow naturally and smoothly into this overall appreciation of various cultures.
In our Elementary classroom:
In our Elementary classes (ages 6 to 9), we follow a curriculum known as the Elementary Cosmic Education Curriculum. These studies cover history from the “beginning of time” to the development of different cultures, human needs, and more. This equips your child to develop a global vision appropriate to their age.
And—our Elementary cultural studies also warmly embrace and incorporate all the holidays and cultural celebrations as well.
The Enriching Power of Montessori
This thoughtful, open-hearted approach to sharing cultural studies, including the holidays of all cultures, enables our students to develop a rich, full, exciting understanding of various peoples around the world. Your son or daughter is empowered with cultural knowledge—at a young age—that many other children simply aren’t exposed to.
Discover the Power of Montessori for Yourself
If you’d like to learn more about the overall Montessori approach and how Primary Montessori Day School offers an enriching, holistic, child-oriented approach to education, we invite you to request our free guide, “How Montessori Gives Your Child a Balanced Education—at School and at Home.” In it, you’ll discover how Montessori can benefit your child for years to come.