No matter how you see the world, children are children! Yet we need to recognize and understand each child and family is unique, and that is why the Los Alamitos Unified School District Child Development Center (CDC) programs follow an anti-bias approach. The purpose of this approach to serve as a safe haven for all children and families!
When we enter a time of year where religious and nationally recognized holidays begin to take over grocery stores and shopping centers, the CDC preschool classroom will continue to reflect the work the children are currently engaged while in the classroom. The CDC classrooms will continue to maintain a sense of calm while maintaining connectiveness, daily routines and learning that is vital to our early learners.
"Both the National Association for the Education of Young Children Code of Ethics and the anti-bias education approach make respecting family diversity a cornerstone of quality early childhood programs. Honoring the cultural diversity among the families you serve means recognizing that all have the right to their traditions and that early childhood programs do not favor one category of families over another."
So what does this look like inside the classroom?
The CDC program does not host celebrations in any particular holiday name. We understand this may look different than how other preschool programs and/or the elementary school recognizes holidays. However, we do welcome families to join us and help us learn about their family traditions. Over the course of the many years, we have found that we may need to be uncomfortably specific when referring to the upcoming holidays.
Please see below for suggestions and past experiences that have informed our classrooms and created teachable moments for us all!
Autumn: The CDC classrooms do not celebrate Halloween in the classrooms nor do they participate in passing out treats or gifts.
The CDC classrooms welcome children to wear costumes as they can wear any clothes they feel comfortable in any day - not just on Halloween. Children are welcome to wear costumes any day as long as they are okay with them possibly getting dirty. Costumes are a part of dramatic play and encourage children to extend their imagination, encourage problem-solving, and increase vocabulary just to name a few. When selecting clothing to wear consider your child's ability to move safely and comfortably as well as use the restroom.
Thanksgiving: The CDC classrooms do not participate in crafts involving the stereotypical pilgrims and Native Americans.
The CDC classrooms focus our attention on community, family, and friendship. The classrooms usually discuss how meal times bring people together and we will often participate in a 'friendship fruit salad' or 'stone soup' depending on the interest of the children. The CDC program or individual classrooms may adopt a family or charitable foundation, and may bring in different food items to support that family during this time of year. Our classrooms strive to build bridges that not only connect between families but out into the community as well!
Christmas and other winter/spring religious holidays: The CDC classrooms do not participate in gift exchanges or product art involving Christmas, religious or other holiday themes (for example: Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter). Designated holidays often included in early childhood program activities may be based on beliefs or practices that negate some families. For example, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in the traditional narrative, recognize only one type of family. Yet, most early childhood education programs now serve a wide range of families, many of which have configurations that differ from the one mother and one father family structure. And all dominant culture holidays reflect a particular perspective about historic events and particular groups of people who are admired and those who are erased.
The CDC classrooms do invite families to come in and share/educate us on how their family celebrates during this time of year.
If you have other ideas or thoughts involving how we can better learn about your family's culture, tradition, and/or beliefs please don't hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or the CDC coordinator Carolyn M. Wertheim.
Thank you for helping us do our best to create a safe environment for all children and families.