Focusing on kindness and community
Holiday celebrations are a month-long affair at schools and daycares
While school is a place for learning, that learning can take many forms when it comes to the holidays.
Erika Menchenton, a Grade 5 teacher at Lakewood Academy in Glenwood, says that the school sprinkles holiday activities throughout December to help the kids have a fun month even though they still have work to do.
“We try to keep to the curriculum and teach what we are supposed to be teaching, but the kids are getting excited,” Menchenton said in the runup to Christmas break this year. “So we do lots of practicing for the Christmas concert and then when December starts we have a theme once a week.”
In the first week of December, the students could dress in Christmas colours, in the second week they had Christmas Kindness Day and all of the students in the school added to a collage about kindness, and in the last week of school before the holidays they had Christmas Accessory Day and their Christmas concert.
Menchenton said they do discuss other cultural and religious festivals in their religion curriculum.
“The kids love talking about other celebrations. We talk about it, compare what the kids in my class do to what people other traditions do,” she said. “I taught in UK for several years where all religions were celebrated at different times in the year. Kids loved it, they loved all the festivals.
“If I had a child of a different religion on my class, I would invite them to share the details of what they do for their celebrations.” Even though the students at Lakewood Academy all celebrate Christmas, their family celebrations vary. Out of respect for that variation, the school’s activities are primarily secular, with a focus on kindness and giving rather than any specific religious themes.
“Our Christmas program this year is quite secular, the music teacher based it on the movie The Greatest Showman,” Menchenton says. “For our other activities, we try to focus more on being kind, helping others, and giving to others who need anything more than us. We collect for the food bank and we talk about family traditions, that sort of thing.”
The kids at the New Fun Land Daycare 2 on the Springdale College Campus also celebrate Christmas by mixing in-school activities with community outreach.
Carole Bartlett, who has been operating the New Fun Land Daycare 2 for the last two and a half years, says that Christmas is her favourite time of year and the activities at the daycare centre reflect that spirit of happiness.
While the kids have Christmas activities throughout December, Bartlett makes an extra effort to connect with the community at this time of year.
“We go over to the retirement centre and do a craft and sing songs with the people there,” Bartlett said. “We have parents come in to make cookies and we make Christmas ornaments for them to bring home for their tree. And, hopefully we’ll have enough snow and be able to go out and do a big snow sculpture that everyone can see.”
The 11 kids at New Fun Land also put up a tree and decorate the centre for the holidays, as well as writing letters to Santa and participating in themed days and activities leading up to their Christmas party.
The three- to five-year-olds also really enjoy playing in a special activity area during December.
“They have their own Santa’s workshop, we have a Santa costume and elf costumes, and they can pretend to be Santa,” Bartlett said. “And we have Christmas music playing, so it is pretty much Christmas all month long.”