Celebrating and encompassing significant celebrations and events are fundamental to our practice and something we hold in the highest esteem.
Chinese New Year is a festival that we have always celebrated from the outset and so the children are incredibly aware, confident and excited when we re-introduce this topic each year.
In addition to creating a Chinese Restaurant role play in our playroom, alongside a noodles and rice sensory tray with mark-making opportunities using chopsticks, we also incorporate Chinese music and dragon dancing into our celebrations as well as visiting the library to gain a deeper insight into the culture and for our children to learn and develop their understanding of the culture and the festival.
We also offer mark-making and creative opportunities for the children to learn about and create their own representations of Chinese blossom trees as well as supporting our older children in learning to write their names using Chinese symbols.
We are keen to encompass the festival and culture into each area of our provision and so the children also have the opportunity to see and understand the symbols of the Chinese language in both letters and numerals as we develop and display our Chinese number line.
The children also have the opportunities to visit the local Chinese supermarket to not only experience the sights and smells of a traditional Chinese shop, but also to choose their own ingredients to cook their own Chinese recipes back at the setting.
However, our favourite and most popular tradition for celebrating Chinese New Year is to visit a traditional Chinese restaurant for a traditional Chinese meal, with all of our children and their parents and families.
Each year that we carry out this tradition, the celebration grows each and every year and for us as home-based childcare providers, who value the parent partnerships we develop as one of the most important part of our practice, watching this celebration and tradition grow each and every year, as our new parents and families join us in celebrating, whilst also children who have left us for school, often come back to join in the celebrations too!
It’s such a wonderful experience every year, particularly watching it grow each and every year, not only for the sense of family that the whole experience encompasses as we all come together to celebrate such an important festival and event in our calendar, but also to see such young children, sitting together in a restaurant, sampling new foods, interacting with each other and their families, developing new skills as they learn to use chopsticks and other traditional Chinese cutlery, but also to watch the complete awe and wonder as they explore the restaurant marvelling at the decorations, ornaments and dragons on display.
For some celebrations and events, celebrating them briefly or adding small snippets of the culture into your setting can seem like tokenism and sometimes it is better to either fully embrace a festival and celebration if it is relevant to the children in your setting, or if it bears no relevance to the children or the families of your settings, then do not feel obliged to celebrate it, these experiences are more meaningful for the children where it has relevance or personal meaning to them.
However, we have found that these experiences are so meaningful not only for all of the children and their families within the setting, but also for the children who’s culture we are embracing and celebrating; the sense of belonging and the respect from their peers that they experience from us celebrating their home cultures and traditions in this way contributes significantly to their overall self-esteem and identity, not just within the setting but within their wider communities and peer groups too.