Tis the season to be...culturally sensitive. Holidays are fun, exciting and great themes for therapy; unless of course, you have students don’t celebrate holidays. As Speech-Language Pathologists we are charged with the task of providing quality skilled intervention while being culturally sensitive and striving for cultural competence.
It’s a great idea to find out about the cultural practices of families at the beginning of the school year. If you have not, at this late date it is better to be safe than sorry because not everyone celebrates Christmas. Some people celebrate Hanukkah, and some celebrate Kwanzaa. Many therapists who try to be sensitive opt to incorporate holidays around the world; and, this is great, unless you have a student whose family doesn’t observe holidays at all. Some people like to have these students go to an alternate setting or work on a different activity during holiday activities; however, this is not really ideal because it’s exclusive and could make the child(ren) feel awkward.
The students who celebrate holidays are often excited about the holiday themed activities; but, trust me they will enjoy other engaging activities if presented. Prior to the pandemic, it was easy to get students to engage in hands-on activities related to weather. Making snow was always a hit in places where it doesn’t snow. Creating kindness or compliment cards for random acts of kindness was usually fun as well. Gingerbread stories are great; however, they need to be screened to make sure that the version being used doesn’t have holiday references.
Now that COVID is here, it’s a little more challenging to plan engaging activities that are not holiday themed; but it’s not impossible. You can still find fun ways to keep students engaged without talking about the holidays. One resource I found provides an array of interesting topics and holidays that are not related to religious beliefs is located here: http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/december.htm
You can locate or create activities around special days that will not disrespect anyone’s culture and will allow everyone to participate. I love that this site has that information for every month of the year; so, in addition to being culturally sensitive, we can expose our students to something different. Since we don’t typically celebrate holidays on the actual day, I think it will be safe to share the dates and celebrate them any time during the month, just like we do the religious holidays. Holidays in December that might work well for therapy include:
These are just a few exceptions; however, the possibilities are endless if we just open our minds to “daring to do something different.”
I realize that some of us are in school; and many of us are working from home. Below are a few digital activities that might be fun without incorporating a holiday theme.
Here are a few free examples of digital interactive activities related that you may find useful with non-holiday related themes:
There are plenty of other activities you can find to go along with some of the special days for December, and the added bonus is that you can use them any time of year. Dare to do something different this December?
Author: Truvine Walker, M.Ed./CCC-SLP, L