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Family Activities
Different Cultures—Different Holidays

It’s important to have children develop a solid understanding about their background so that they can establish positive feelings about their own identity. From that point, children can start to connect, understand, and appreciate differences with their peers, their teachers, their family members, and persons in the world around them. The ability to accept others, despite the differences, is an essential element of social and emotional skills for young children. Here are some suggested fun activities that you can adapt according to your family structure during the holidays.

Reconnect with family members and friends. Family and friends can share with your child stories and their traditions of celebrating the holiday season when they were children. They can describe the games played, the special foods prepared, and the music and songs enjoyed. Sharing stories allows parents and children to connect and gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of their own culture and traditional beliefs and of the meaning of the holiday season. 

Create a new family tradition. Take advantage of the holidays to actively engage your children in planning new ways for celebrating and enjoying your holiday time. Introduce new recipes or arts and crafts, such as candle making, or simply volunteer at your favorite charity. Here are some additional ideas:

  • Gather a variety of art supplies—construction paper, markers, crayons, glue, and glitter. Help your child create homemade holiday cards. Give these cards to friends and family with messages of hope, good health, and peace for the coming year.
  • Plan a family celebration that incorporates some of the recipes or traditions you or your child discovers in library books. Look for recipes and ideas that your family would like to include in your own winter holiday celebration.

Attend community festivals and events. Take time to attend different ethnic festivals and community events with your children. The holiday festivals allow you to eat new holiday treats, listen to different music, and even hear various languages spoken. This experience creates an opportunity for your child to see, hear, and smell the wonders of cultural differences for himself or herself. While attending the festival, children can also learn how their own holiday traditions differ from those of other cultures.

Volunteer at your child's school. Share your child’s holiday traditions and customs with his or her class. Ask your child’s teacher if you can volunteer during the holidays by bringing in traditional foods or music, demonstrating a special dance, or talking about a tradition of your own family. This opportunity lets your child share his or her traditions with the class—making your child feel so proud.

Use familiar items that your child knows and loves. Using familiar books, music, dolls, dressup clothes, or other toys is the easiest, most natural way to expand your child’s knowledge about his or her own family’s culture as well as different cultures. Your child will learn what makes him or her unique and special.

Resources
KidsHealth
Teaching  Your Child Tolerance” supplies parents and caregivers with information and tips about teaching young children to be tolerant. 
Getting  Involved at Your Child’s School” provides parents with tips on how to volunteer at their children’s school.

National Association for the Education of Young Children
Q  & A with the authors of Anti-Bias Education” presents a list of questions and answers to parents and caregivers about environments that are inclusive, nurturing, and tolerant.

National Network for Child Care
Activities  that Promote Racial and Cultural Awareness” provides parents with ideas on how to incorporate daily activities that promote cultural awareness in children before they reach age 9.

PBSKids.org
Volunteering : How Can I Make A Difference?” presents simple ideas on how to include young children in volunteering during the holiday season.

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Updated on 12/20/2013