How can you teach your young child about different holidays?
Learning about other holidays helps children expand their cultural world.
As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to remember there are a diverse set of holidays available to explore. It’s important children understand and express their own family traditions and beliefs, but the holiday season can be a great time to encourage exploration of other cultural traditions and beliefs. Learning about other cultures helps expand your child’s experiences and world and helps create understanding across cultures.
How can you teach your school-age children about different holidays? Michigan State University Extension recommends these tips to try with your child.
- Learn about the holidays yourself! It can be intimidating to explain a new concept to your child when you don’t feel confident on the explanation. Take some time and do some research on different holidays. Ask yourself these questions as you are done some background work:
- Why is this holiday celebrated?
- What is the historical origin of the holiday?
- What are the religious values, commercial or economic interests?
- Don’t just focus on the holidays, but think broader and talk about family traditions. Some families may not celebrate a holiday specifically, but have a family tradition they could share.
- Explore different cultures year-round. Holidays are one part of exploring other cultures, but incorporate year-round opportunities to learn about and explore other cultures. Think about how your child's cultural awareness and sensitivity is increased by learning this new information.
- Read children’s books about different holidays. Check out your local library for activities and books available.
- Try food from different cultures that is used to celebrate during the holidays. Not sure where to start? Check out a multi-cultural cookbook or look for recipes on the internet. Talk about why specific foods are important and part of a holiday tradition.
- Attend a local holiday festival as a family. While you’re there, look for things that are similar to your holiday traditions.
- Visit cultural centers or museums and explore different holiday celebrations as it relates to that specific culture.
- Visit with people that celebrate different holidays.
Here are some resources to help you teach your children about different holidays:
- PBS Parents: Search for “holiday diversity” or “cultural diversity” for a great list of resources.
- Anti-Bias Education: The December Holidays from the National Association for the Education of Young Children
- Celebrating Winter Holidays in the Classroom from Scholastic
Exploring different holiday traditions does not take away from a child’s own celebration, but instead helps them make the connection of similarities between what they practice and what others practice. It helps them understand and appreciate other cultures and points of view and can enhance their appreciation for their own traditions.
For more ideas about activities and articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.
To learn about the positive impact children and families are experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Report. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.
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