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Holiday Activities: Parents Don’t Want Their Child to Participate

Friends, I have a question for you: Have you ever had a parent request that their child not participate in holiday activities in your classroom? 

If you’ve taught for any length of time, chances are you’ve encountered this issue before. 

But what can you do about it? And how do you deal with it in a respectful and inclusive way?

In today’s episode, I’ll be answering these exact questions and sharing a few dos and don’ts of dealing with these situations.

Are you ready?

Tune in now!

You’ve Got Mail!

The question I’m answering today is from one of my podcast listeners. She says: 

“How do you handle it when one student doesn’t celebrate a certain holiday? I don’t have anywhere else to send the child. We do trick or treating as an activity. It’s in my lesson plans. I had Halloween in my monthly newsletter, and I gave my year long outline to parents at the beginning of the year. Yet I was just notified by a parent the day before Halloween that their child can’t participate. I’m at a private center. So asking parents to keep their kids at home is not an option for me. We also have parties right before winter break and Valentine’s Day.”

I get questions like this one every single year from teachers just before Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you are reading this blog or listening to this episode. It’s always good to save it in your back pocket, because it’s going to give you some food for thought going forward. 

Holiday Activities for Halloween

When it comes to Halloween activities, there are many ways you can teach about the season of fall without focusing on just one day. For example, instead of having your traditional Halloween party at school, you could have a harvest party or a literacy character book parade. Many public schools do that and it’s always a hit in the classroom. 

In fact, this is the main reason why I created our super popular Pumpkin Bundle. This bundle gives you the opportunity to read books and do activities focusing on pumpkins and fall, instead of focusing on Halloween. This way, nobody is excluded and everybody is included. And that’s always the goal in the preschool classroom.

Another way you can set yourself and your students up for success is to make sure that the wording you use around these activities is very clearly stated upfront for the parents or guardians. This way, they know beforehand what kind of activities you’re planning for the school year. 

We have examples of that type of messaging available in our Halloween Party Planning Guide and our Valentine’s Day Party Planning Guide.

Holiday Activities That Are Respectful and Inclusive

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, there are many ways you can acknowledge kindness and friendship in your classroom without using the words “Valentine’s Day” or sharing cards or anything like that.  

And when it comes to the big holiday in December, you can always do a gingerbread theme. The classic fairy tale of the gingerbread man is perfect for this time of the year. You can just focus on the story itself, on the characters, the setting, the details… You can even bake a gingerbread cookie and decorate it. None of these activities are exclusively tied to Christmas, or any concepts of Christianity at all. 

There’s also the super fun and popular five senses theme, where you can do all kinds of things with five senses for the entire month. 

Children can smell certain scents, like peppermint or cinnamon. They can taste sweet, salty, and sour things, and they can see different things in their environment. It’s a great theme for December!

What to Do When Parents Say Their Child Can’t Participate in Certain Holiday Activities

[Image quote: “One way that you can set yourself and your kids and families up for success is to make sure that the wording you use around [classroom] activities is very clearly stated up front for your families.” - Vanessa Levin]

If a parent lets you know that their child cannot participate in certain activities or celebrations, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge the parent’s request without judgment or disdain.  

Then, if you have any questions about the parent’s request and what they’re specifically objecting to, ask them directly. 

If the parent gives you religious information or pamphlets, thank them. Don’t look at it with a wrinkled nose. Just take the pamphlet, and thank them. What you do with it after the parent leaves the room is up to you. But I highly recommend reading it so you can have your questions answered. 

I discuss all of this in more depth in the episode above, so make sure to give it a listen when you can! I promise, it’s worth it.

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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