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ECLC: Learning About Family Holiday Traditions

Throughout the month of December, the ECLC program at Graland spent time learning about various Festivals of Light that take place around the world during the holiday season. By highlighting these celebrations, including Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, students and teachers alike were able to make connections, learn about new traditions, and create a sense of community. 
According to ECLC teacher Mrs. Lisa Flannery, "As part of our curriculum and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity, we make it a point to talk about family traditions and holidays that are reflective of our student population. The focus is on traditions that are celebrated in their homes with family and friends. We make mention of Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice. Each of these celebrations includes light, love, gratitude, and reflection. It is important for our students to learn about holiday celebrations other than their own so that they may gain a deeper understanding of acceptance of how their classmates' families are the same, but also different. It is an opportunity to look inside someone else's window to share their celebration with them!" 

Throughout the lessons, ECLC students across the program were able to share in each other's celebrations by bringing their traditions from home into the classroom! This happened in Ms. Lisa Barone's class when three ECLC students introduced Hanukkah to their classmates. The students not only brought in traditional items for show and tell, such as menorahs, dreidels (for other students to take home), and Hanukkah books but were also part of learning moments for their classmates. "During our conversations about traditions, teachers asked the children to talk about how and when they use these items and why. The students were actually the 'teachers' to their peers," Ms. Barone said. "From these discussions, an ECLC student remembered that her cousins celebrate Hanukkah and she recalled lighting the Menorah with them. Another student drew conclusions that the Menorah looks like a candlestick they use at Christmas and that they light candles too. Teachers guided them in understanding that the common theme is 'light'." 

For ECLC teacher Ms. Hope Gardner, the time spent teaching students about the Festival of Light was a direct reflection of Graland's goal throughout the year to promote individuality, cultivate compassion, embrace experiences, and value tradition. "In the ECLC, we are encouraged to respect and value each child's home language and culture through their school setting, where we continually collaborate with parents to help create a bridge from home to school," Ms. Gardner said. "This helps motivate children to learn new vocabulary, practice language skills, and promote peer communication in a healthy, non-threatening environment, where each child is both seen and heard. As these traditions are taught to students, we hope that this allows children to be aware of others' differences in the world while enabling the community to have an equitable lens. When holidays and traditions are acknowledged, it can bring joy to several families and establish connections between the school and families." 

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.