It’s December and in the Australian ECEC sector we know what that means!
Somewhere out there, a tabloid editor has added “Outrage as childcare bans Christmas” to their story list, and a parent has expressed outrage they must keep paying fees even though their family is heading up the coast for a fortnight.
Online forums are buzzing with the pros and cons of Santa related crafts and ideas for gifting between children and parents, parents and educators, and directors or providers and their staff.
Most preschools are close to shutting for the year, many OSHC are ramping up for vacation care, and the whole country is joining the collective Australian madness that makes us think we can achieve 12 months’ worth of work in the last 20 working days of the year.
Are you ready?
Here’s some things to consider for your Christmas countdown, even if your service remains open for the holiday season:
- Have you got enough staff rostered on or casuals booked to cover your holiday period, including legal supervisory roles?
- Do you have induction procedures for your casuals, or any junior educators filling more senior roles over the traditional break?
- Have you communicated clearly to families, more than once and using more than one medium, about your closing times and what information you need about absences?
- Have you created opportunities for all children to share how they would like to celebrate the end of the year?
- If children move ‘up’ at year’s end in your service, have you been working through a transition program with them?
- If children are leaving your service – to school, high school, or to another location with their families – have you got a program to help them farewell their friends and educators?
- Have you considered how your end of year program encourages community connections and supports the range of cultures, religions and family experiences represented by the children and educators at your service?
Have you thought it through?
Here are some resources to help you enjoy a safe and happy December.
Celebrations, Holidays or Special Occasions is an information sheet prepared by Anne Stonehouse under the Inclusion and Professional Support Program.
Including young children’s voices is an article hosted on BeYou
Process art ideas shares the ethos behind process art, and some great projects for the festive season courtesy of Care for Kids
You might also appreciate these two articles from past ACECQA newsletters in 2016 and 2014.
Year-end celebrations are, of course, broader than Santa Claus and Christmas. Australia is a multicultural nation and children’s services reflect that diversity in many ways throughout the year. When in doubt, return to Principle 4, Respect for Diversity, which appears in both the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Aged Care and reflect on how well you are embodying that respect across all celebrations.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives
Aboriginal people are as diverse in their cultures and religious beliefs as any other Australians, but here’s a collection of articles that might help you and your team reflect on inclusion in your programs and celebrations.
Christmas is Deadly, from the Nyumba education resource site.
This transcript of an ABC radio program, Indigenous Christmas.
This broader review of Aboriginal festivals and celebrations, and also SNAICC for early childhood specific resources.
The following is a selection of cultural and religious festivals and holidays occurring in December and January. It is not an exhaustive list and we welcome any additions! Please add your contribution in the comments below this story and we may add them to the article for others to read, too.
Bodhi Day celebrates the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in 596BC and is celebrated by Buddhists on either 8 December (Japanese Rohatsu tradition from Gregorian Calendar) or a another date usually in January for followers of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Educators interested in celebrating Bodhi Day could start by discussing its preferred date of celebration and its meaning with any Buddhist families or with local or regional Buddhist organisations or temples.
Donghzi is the Chinese winter solstice festival, translated to a southern hemisphere setting like Shab-e-Yalda, below. People celebrating this day will focus on positive thoughts and harmonious relationships. Families may celebrate by making tangyuan together as these glutinous sticky rice balls stand for sticking together. It’s a festival that promotes harmony and positivity. Families celebrate the day by getting together and making tangyuan – glutinous sticky rice balls. These balls symbolise reunion and togetherness.
An important Jewish religious festival, Hannukah runs from 2-10 December this year. It commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the associated miracle of a single day’s worth of oil burning for eight days in the purification of the temple.
Kwanzaa is an African-American tradition that celebrates African heritage and this year will run from 26 December 2018 to 1 January 2019. It is a secular festival that aims to help African-Americans reconnect with their lost heritage. In Swahili, Kwanzaa means ‘first fruits of the harvest’. This festival is celebrated by African-Americans all over the world through gift-giving acts, and meals shared with family and friends.
This is a Persian festival that celebrates the longest night in the year in the northern hemisphere, 21-22 December 2018 in Australia. People from Iranian origins – the modern Persia – may celebrate Yalda. One feature of the event is to eat red coloured fruits like pomegranates and watermelons, that echo the colours of early dawn and, in northern hemisphere terms, mark the beginning of longer days.
Have you got a celebration you want to share? Add it in the comments below.
Meet the author
Bec Lloyd is the founder and managing director of Bec & Call Communication, providing professional writing, editing and strategy services to the school and early childhood education sector since 2014. In 2018 she launched UnYucky mindset and menus for happier family mealtimes. Formerly the communications lead at ACECQA and BOS (now NESA), Bec is a journo and mother of three who produces Amplify for us at Community Early Learning Australia.