At Bright Horizons we strive to make our centers inclusive places of belonging for students and staff. Our homes can be also be an anti-bias space where we can strengthen family traditions while encouraging the respectful exploration of other cultures. But how do parents approach the holiday season in an anti-bias way?
Ages and Stages
When approaching the holidays and anti-bias work within your family, it is important to keep your child’s age and developmental stage in mind so you can adjust your expectations for behavior and understanding. For example, the excitement and busyness of a holiday can lead to a shift in routine, making it easy for a 2- or 3-year-old to become easily overstimulated. A 4- or 5-year-old child may begin to remember rituals and traditions from the previous year and will also begin to notice similarities and differences between your family’s celebrations and how other people celebrate. Elementary-aged children will be able to fully understand and discuss differences in holiday celebrations across cultures, and also differences in celebrations within their own culture.
Mirrors and Windows
Global awareness and empathy are two critical 21st century competencies, and they are the foundation for leading an anti-bias life. One of my favorite frameworks when approaching anti-bias work with children is to think about providing mirrors and windows. Children need experiences that are reflective of themselves, their families, and their own culture—this is the mirrors piece. Providing that reflection makes children feel comfortable, confident, and safe enough to then branch out and explore other cultures.
The windows piece happens when parents give children the opportunity to consider others’ experiences, thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Windows can be provided in your home by offering books, toys, music, and art that reflect a culture different from your own year-round. During holidays, be mindful that the decorations or craft projects you do are not perpetuating stereotypes or biases, and do not misrepresent others.
Editor’s Note: Interested in learning more about how to approach holidays in an anti-bias way? Check out our on-demand workshop.
- How can you raise anti-racist kids? Get guidance from our education and diversity experts.
- Reference these conversation starters to help guide discussions around race and differences with your children.
I’m Claire, a Bright Horizons employee and a mom of three school-aged kids. I have spent years as an early childhood educator and researcher, and also as a writer, chronicling the ups and downs of being a mom. I believe that writing honestly about parenthood is the best way to celebrate the joys and normalize the challenges we all encounter. I live in MA and in my spare time I enjoy hiking with my dog and reading.
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