The Holiday season is a perfect time to teach Montessori preschool children about the diversity and cultural heritage of the world. Exploring cultural traditions and participating in family traditions alike offer ample opportunity to learn about the many holidays being celebrated during the season.
The whole family can join with preschoolers to learn about the December holidays. Boxing Day, Kwanza, Hanukkah, and Christmas are a few of the major holidays but there are many other days and traditions being honored all around the world. Keep in mind that some traditions are much different than your own, such as the growing custom of eating Kentucky Friend Chicken to celebrate Christmas.
Examine Family Traditions
Take a closer look at your own family traditions for the holidays and try to figure out why they have come to be. For example, many families have a tradition of the children making unique ornaments every year to have a record of the happy holidays spent together. A closer look at your own annual traditions may provide some enlightenment about their origins and purposes.
Explore the World
With the Montessori Method, every experience is a learning opportunity. Using a globe or map of the world, let your preschooler choose one location every day and then investigate the December holidays and traditions the people living there enjoy. Some of them, like the lantern festival practiced in the Philippines, you can even do at home, adding a whole new realm to the educational experience.
There are almost always underlying meanings for the ornaments and decorations used during the December holidays. Even the evergreen tree traditionally used as a centerpiece is used because it represents growth and vitality even in the hardest winter times. The same is true of traditional December feasts, festivals, and events. Learning why people do the things they do provides insight into society and culture.
Preschool children thrive on learning about the world. At their age, they have only seen a little and are yet to organize most of what they have seen into logical sequences. By immersing them in an exciting and informational holiday adventure of discovery, you give them substance for thought and the excitement of learning to do new things.