The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) states that “Belonging acknowledges children’s interdependence with others and the basis of relationships in defining identities.
In early childhood and throughout life, relationships are crucial to a sense of belonging. Belonging is central to being and becoming in that it shares who children are and who they can become”.
Encouraging both families and educators to support children in developing their understanding of another’s cultures and beliefs, the EYLF maintains that celebrating who we are and how we connect with those around us, is, therefore, fundamental to promoting children’s sense of belonging and supporting their holistic development.
Every child and their family has something unique - their own culture - which they bring with them into our early childhood setting. Celebrations and religious events have different meanings for different cultural groups and communities. As we support children in developing an understanding of religious and cultural festivals through the context of family experiences, we acknowledge and affirm their culture and individual beliefs. Celebrating diversity through recognising a range of cultural festivals and practices, provide children with a fundamental understanding of the way that culture and community influence and impact us. Cultural celebrations foster respect and open-mindedness for other cultures. Ramya (2019) encourages us to share our cultural knowledge as we invite children to explore local and international foods and ideas - celebrating the big and small of every festival.
As we support children in developing an understanding of religious and cultural festivals through the context of family experiences, we acknowledge and affirm their culture and individual beliefs. Knowledge, according to Appalachian University (2020), is the key to tolerance. By celebrating all festivals, children learn that members of families of all religions (or of none) love one another and that they show this in different ways (Mort, 2020). Although this may be presented in sharing special foods or exchanging gifts, it ultimately embodies love through a focus on family. Mort (2020) explains that through an imaginative approach to children’s experiences of different festivals and celebrations, we can support their learning in many areas. Children’s self-confidence and expressive language skills are promoted as they share their cultural beliefs with their peers. By offering children the opportunity of sharing the joy of others’ festivals and celebrations we can give them a gateway into a world of mutual understanding and shared human values.
Celebrations are more than a party. These events encourage children to question, answer, reflect on and articulate what they learn regarding other cultures and beliefs. Festivals bring us together and invite us to develop an understanding of the importance of togetherness. Celebrating special events and festivals in our school has become an integral part of learning and building a strong sense of being and belonging. It promotes respect and understanding of each other's customs and traditions and brings us closer together.
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