All is calm, all is bright…
You can’t go anywhere at this time of year without hearing Christmas songs, seeing Christmas decorations and being bombarded by big brands telling children what they need from Santa. Except you can, our day-care service in Dundee is an oasis of calm…of course we know it’s the festive season and so do our children and families, but we’ve made a conscious decision not to go Christmas crazy, here’s why.
This time of year, is stressful enough for so many families, our aim is to support them during this time, not to add any additional pressure. It is not that we do not “do” Christmas, we are just very relaxed about it. Our decorations are simple, not across every available surface within the day-care. We have a tiny little tree that the children have decorated. All learning experiences have come from the children and are explored and extended by the staff.
The calming environment that we want to provide for the children needs to be consistent and should not have to change at this time of year. We did not “do” Halloween, and this was commented on positively by our parents and visitors to the centre, including the inspectors at our Care Inspectorate visit. We didn’t have a Halloween party and we will not be having a Christmas party either.
We are a flexible childcare service, we don’t do standard sessions, we provide tailored childcare packages; from hourly booking patterns, to wrap around, drop off and pick up services and even homebased care. We want to be inclusive of all the children who attend and have organised small activities for every day next week, ensuring that no child misses out. Any child who is interested and wants to engage will be encouraged. Having said this, our goal is to support our families, not by adding another drain onto their wallets or increasing their stress levels.
One of our mums recently told us that she felt calmer knowing that she would not need to find time to organise and buy partywear for her daughter. She had discussed this with other parents who could see that we are still celebrating Christmas, without going over the top.
We do not want to conform to outdated standards, pressurising the children to take part in activities, such as making decorations for their families. We’re against the “crap-tivities” and do not want to be painting children’s feet and hands to make Rudolph’s and Santa’s when the children have no understanding of what they are doing or why. Additionally, the families we support are of many different religions and asking their children to do this does not support their celebrations. The alternative, asking them to carry out separate activities, results in a feeling of isolation. How does that fit with Christmas Spirit?
To be clear, we are not against Christmas, we just prefer to emphasise the true meaning of this time of year, being grateful for what you have and giving what you can. It is an idea that should be taught to our children all year round, not just during the holidays. We do this by maintaining a calm, nurturing environment within the day-care, no matter what time of year. Our children are always encouraged to work with one another and grow as individuals.
So, no we have not covered our building in festive lights, Santa will not be stopping in, and the children haven’t made cards for their families, but we believe their future will be bright!