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The December Dilemma: Fostering an Inclusive Classroom During the Holidays

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.” —Hafsat Abiola

Hannukah, Christmas, and Diwali materials (pictured here) represent just some of the winter holidays NMS families celebrate. All are welcome to share their traditions with classrooms.

Sharing the cultural history and beliefs associated with different holidays helps students see how richly diverse our world is. Sadly, in an effort to avoid causing offense by not acknowledging every possible culture, many schools (both public and private) have ended celebrations of any kind during the month of December. Children can no longer sing the songs of their faith or traditions. They cannot decorate their classrooms or bake holiday cookies and treats. Teachers can no longer give lessons or even discuss the celebrations that take place during the holiday season. NMS is no such place! I am so proud to be a part of a community where we welcome, respect and encourage everyone to share and celebrate their beliefs.

In our classrooms, teachers welcome the many religions, traditions and celebrations represented in our student body. Take a look at the Cultural and Practical Life shelves in any classroom and you will see a Menorah, a Christmas Tree, a Kinara and activity sheets of holiday scenes. Lessons are given on many religions; some by teachers, but many are presented by parents. Walk down any hallway and you may hear the story of Hanukkah, the traditions of Kwanzaa, the Christmas Story, the beauty of the Winter Solstice, or the meaning of Bodhi Day in the Buddhist tradition. During this time we are also preparing as a community to celebrate The Festival of Lights. Children from Beginners to Upper Elementary prepare music from the Jewish tradition, Christianity, Kwanzaa, Diwali and traditional carols.

At Newton Montessori, we welcome and celebrate every piece of our students’ cultural and religious lives. By sharing our religions, beliefs and traditions with each other and our students, we all work together to cultivate an environment of understanding and acceptance.

Watch our “Happy Holidays” video from 2015 to see some holiday lessons and materials, as well as our Festival of Lights concert and Beginners holiday party:

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