Fo­cus­ing on kind­ness and com­mu­nity

Hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions are a month-long af­fair at schools and day­cares

The Central Voice - - Classified - BY CHRIS­TINE HENNEBURY

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.”

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