What would you say if someone asked you what words come to mind when you think of Christmas, or what is synonymous with Christmas for you? You would probably think of Santa Claus, gift giving, Christmas music, Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity plays, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, holly, letters to Santa, festivities, food, wrapping paper, candles, religious services, advent calendars, Christmas cards, and I could keep going! This is a dizzying list and there are probably a lot more words that could be added!
For me Christmas is also a time of family, and for Early Years and School Age Care settings it is a busy time, planning, helping children with their letters to Santa, wishing for this and wishing for that! Putting up decorations and scrolling through the various art books to bring creativity to life in the playrooms.
If there was one wish I could have for Christmas, it would be for everybody to slow down a little – less is more! Whatever activity you plan, spend more time exploring what the children really think or say about the arts and crafts. Take time to reflect on and maybe document what they are saying as they cut, stick, draw and paint.
One moment sticks out in my mind when many years ago as I was working with the children in the playschool, busy and working hard to get all the arts and crafts ready to display and send home. I wanted to really give the children a sense of the joy and wonder that could be Christmas. So, I prided myself on all the information that I would give the children and the many questions that I would ask to check their understanding, “Do you know where Santa comes from?”, “Where do we get holly from?” etc. Then I asked a small group of children ‘why do we celebrate Christmas?’ and one little girl said to me, ‘I am not really a Christian, I believe in unicorns and fairies!’
In that moment I said to myself, it is so important to really get to know each and every child in my playroom and to truly give time to listening to children. It hit home that not every child views Christmas in the same way. This was 18 years ago, and I know we have moved a long way since with our knowledge of diversity and inclusion. However, the take home message remains the same, take time to listen, slow down and let the magic of Christmas come from the children too. It is wonderful to sit with children and spread the joy, through activities, songs, or actions, but it is also wonderful to let the children teach us something!
Blog Posts on Igniting Creativity at Christmas
Over the years of our Scéalta blog posts, we have published many ideas to ignite creativity in children. These highlight that by nurturing creativity, we can give so much scope for children’s imagination to run free. You can read more about this from a post back in December 2016, encouraging children to do it their way.
And another lovely post from Dr Evelyn Egan who really conjures up how nature can influence art and creativity, encouraging children when they are outdoors to observe the changing light, glistening puddles, berries, leaves and twigs trapped in ice sheets.
Another lovely post which reminds us how COVID-19 affected the way we celebrated Christmas, both in our homes and in our settings, this one highlights the importance of tradition, valuing our own and respecting the traditions of others and how they celebrate Christmas.
Whatever way you celebrate Christmas, and whatever you do with the children in your setting to celebrate the festive season, remember to take a little time to slow down, relax the pace! Christmas can be stressful, full of busyness and children can feel it too.