Celebrations such as Mother’s Day, always bring to the surface the ongoing ‘celebrations’ debate. Another celebration that we need to consider whether we celebrate and how.
Our philosophy @ Diversity Kids has always been “Yes! It’s ok to celebrate!” There are so many ways to ensure that our celebrations programs are inclusive of every child & family, their unique circumstances and ways of being.
Before considering cancelling Mother’s Day celebrations ‘in order to be more inclusive’, it would be useful to refocus our inclusion lens around such occasions and critically reflect on important questions including:
- How does Mother’s Day fit in to the demographics of our education & care community? Every child in our setting has different family circumstances. Some come from extended families where they are raised by many mother figures (including mum, grandmother, aunt), others may have two mothers, two fathers, live with their father, or a foster or adopted family. Some children’s mothers may have passed away or don’t live with them. As practitioners, we should have a pretty good idea without having to consult children and families, who we think may experience challenges around celebrating Mother’s Day and why.
- What are some of the things we can do to ensure that our Mother’s Day programs are respectful, responsive, inclusive, sensitive and meaningful to the diversity of our children & families (particularly those that may be disadvantaged)?
- Is Mother’s Day something relevant, important & meaningful to your children, families & Educators? Have you consulted with the children & families on their thoughts & ideas?
- When we talk about inclusion, who are we being ‘inclusive of’? If we decide to cancel Mother’s Day celebrations, are we potentially being exclusive of the children & families who would normally celebrate and for whom celebrating mothers & mother figures in their world is important? In many cultures for example, mothers and mother figures (including grandmothers, Godmothers, aunts) are revered. Events such as Mother’s Day would be meaningful to them and they would be looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks to the people they love. This would be something that they celebrate at home.
Celebrations such as Mother’s Day are another great opportunity for us to research, critically reflect, consult and find strategies and solutions to turn something that we perceive as potentially exclusive, into a meaningful, respectful & inclusive experience for every child.
What are some of the things we can do?
- Just the same way we determine whether and how to celebrate cultural, religious and other festivals based on our centre demographics, child & family interest & through consultation with our children and families – we can apply the same process to events such as Mother’s Day.
- The first step to take is to research & reflect as a team whether there are any children that you feel may be disadvantaged during Mother’s Day celebrations & programs. Consider what approaches you can take to ensure meaningful & sensitive inclusive practices around this.
- The key is in our respectful relationships & ongoing consultation and communication with both the children & families. Reach out to families and check in on what they would like to see happen, how they would like to be involved and how they would like their children to participate during the Mother’s Day activities & programs.
- Consult with the children also, about their current interests around Mother’s Day, whether they would like to celebrate and how. This helps develop their sense of agency & belonging. This way we are offering children authentic, meaningful learning experiences, based on their family circumstances and ways of being. They also get to have a say about their participation & engagement in learning. It may be useful to provide them with options. eg offer them choices as to who they would like to show their appreciation to, write a card or create a gift for (such as their mum or any other ‘mother figure’ in their lives). This could include their grandmother, aunt, foster mum, dad, uncle. They may prefer to call it “Special Person’s Day” instead of Mother’s Day.
There is no need to do away with and cancel Mother’s Day. There is a way!
Use these celebrations as opportunities to: - critically reflect communicate, consult & collaborate; - work towards cultural responsiveness & authentic, meaningful inclusivity; - educate children around the diversity of families, inclusion and celebrating special people in their lives; - provide children with a sense of agency and opportunity to celebrate significant others in their world.
Sometimes we focus on exclusive aspects of celebrations, when what we can be doing is turning it around and start focusing on solutions & strategies to ensure inclusion for all.