I recently posted a picture on Instagram and talked about how absolutes and ECE aren’t a good mix. When your job is to help small children develop being inflexible is not a strength. Still, in our field of early childhood education, we are often met with absolutes. You must do this and can’t do that…all children need this or that… is it really that black and white? I don’t think so.
There are voices in this ECE space that think we should do away with celebrating quasi-holidays like Mother’s Day at preschool. I see the value in that. I also see the value in celebrating mothers.
There is no one universal right way. You need to be responsive to your classroom of students and their families.
The only way for you to do this well is to get to know the families you serve, to get to know your students, and to be flexible with your plans.
To Celebrate or Not
Your students come from all different backgrounds and have all kinds of family configurations; some don’t have a mom, some have moms who have been abusive, some have two loving moms, some have moms who are deployed and missed terribly. The first thing you need to do before you can decide how you are going to or even if you are going to acknowledge and celebrate Mother’s Day in your classroom is to carefully consider each student. How will celebrating Mother’s Day support them and their families? Will this work to build community or alienate?
Invite Moms In For A Special Event?
I love special events at school because it is a wonderful way to build classroom community and strengthen the bridge between home and school. But… many moms work jobs that do not allow them to take any time off. If you had a program during the school day would you be excluding some of your moms? If it is at night would this mean those that work evening hours are excluded?
What about younger siblings? Can they come if mom can’t afford or secure childcare?
Does everyone have transportation to school for the special event?
Even if all your moms can get to the school do they all feel comfortable once they are there? Do you have moms who aren’t able to understand or speak English? Do you have the ability to make them feel included? Do you have someone who can interpret for them?
There is a lot to consider before just doing what has always been done.
Maybe after you answer all these questions, it will become clear that it is a great fit for your students to have moms come in and celebrate with a little lunch together, or maybe you go back to the drawing board. The most important thing is that we are doing our best to be inclusive and sensitive to our students and their families.
Inclusive Mother’s Day Activities and Alternatives
Here are some ways you can celebrate Mother’s Day that are more flexible and inclusive as well as a few alternatives. These may not work in your classroom either; there is no universal perfect fit!
- Fill your bookshelves with books about moms that reflect the cultures in your classroom.
- Read books about families that include all kinds of family configurations.
- Use an inclusive Mother’s Day questionnaire printable like this one which allows the child to fill in who it is without it being tied to Mom or Mommy.
- Invite families to send in favorite recipes from home, cook as a class, and make a recipe book as a gift complete with photos.
- Invite families to come into the class on different days to share their child’s favorite book in whatever language is used in the home. Need some Spanish books? Here are some classics in Spanish!
- Paint portraits of mom for art and have a mom art gallery in the hall or classroom open to visit at mom’s convenience. Take photos and send home in a newsletter slideshow as well for moms who can’t make it in.
- Have a food or diaper drive to help moms in need.
- If you do have a performance and moms can’t make it film it and send the video to them.
Let’s not forget you don’t have to celebrate it. The best option for your class might be to skip celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day separately and focus on Families instead. Here is a great families circle time.
Do you have ideas of how to celebrate Mother’s Day at preschool in a more inclusive way? I’d love to hear about it!
Remember even if you are in a class where every mom can make it in for muffins and a cute Mother’s Day craft next year you might not. Don’t get too attached to any one way of doing things because our job as preschool teachers is to meet our students where they are at, not force them to be where we are.
Jennifer Tammy says
Loved your suggestions – and maybe sending a small questionnaire home to ask those questions would be helpful, too. (As long as everyone understands that this is an information-gathering survey and that the teacher will be making the final decision.)
Anna Stephens says
I love the idea of not leaving anyone person out. I am a Nana raising my 2 grandsons. 7 and 3…. As old school as I may be…. I love all the ideas on here… 🙂