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So, this is Christmas!

By: MAIRE CORBETT

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Over the past few weeks we have been linking on social media to previous seasonal Scéalta posts. We’ve looked back at posts about encouraging creativity, avoiding colouring-in and gluing templates, being mindful and respectful of the traditions of everyone in our settings and looking to nature for inspiration for the art fest that this season brings. But the post that captured the most comment and attention on Facebook was one from December 2017, called Performing… for Who?

For those of you who haven’t yet read it, it tells the story of a setting where the manager thought their Christmas concert was very child-friendly and unpressurised. However, after the performance she overheard a mum asking her little boy why he didn’t sing in the concert, and subsequently at graduation noticed that same little boy singing in a very stressed way. She realised that despite her best efforts and reminding parents it was about fun and celebration, the concert was much more about adult expectations and a ‘product’ based celebration. In response to this, and following staff discussion and reflection, this setting changed their way of celebrating Christmas. Instead, they held a family event, where the children showed their parents and families around the creche, Santa came, and everyone sang songs and carols together. This was a much more child-friendly event and no one was expected to perform: just have fun with their families! Another setting I heard about had an ‘exhibition’ of children creations with staff having written down the children’s descriptions of what they made. Viewing the art was followed by refreshments and chat.

The comments on the post itself at the time, and on Facebook recently, would indicate that this struck a chord with readers. One person said that singing should be enjoyable for all. I agree completely. If a child (or anyone, for that matter) is anxious about how they are performing, the enjoyment goes, what should be fun is a chore. Another Facebook commenter describes how they have a Christmas family gathering where everyone, including families of staff members, come to the creche in the evening. There’s face-painting, mince pies, singing and Santa! She says: No stress, happy families and staff. It’s our best night of the year! I love the idea of having the staff members' families come along… so nice for children to see where their mammy or daddy works!

So, perhaps a few things to think about for the next ‘performance’ based event? When the madness is over for this year, take a few minutes to reflect on the purpose of the event, be it a concert or graduation….

Who is it for?

Do ALL the children enjoy it?

What other way could we do these events, without making it stressful for some children and staff?

But for this week…. enjoy the magic and madness! Have fun, revel in the children’s enjoyment of this special time.

And when you close your doors for the well-earned break, relax and have down-time with those you have around you for the festive season. It has been a stressful few months, so take the opportunity to recharge and take care of yourself!

The team behind Scéalta, and indeed all of us at Early Childhood Ireland would like to thank all our contributors and readers throughout 2019. We wish you a very happy Christmas and here’s to a great 2020!

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