Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: How to navigate different family structures in the classroom
With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day around the corner, we must remember that not all students are able to celebrate these holidays. While it is important to create fun and engaging lessons for your students, it is even more important to make sure all students feel included and heard during these times that may be difficult for some and will help support their social and emotional journey.
Your students will come from a variety of different family backgrounds and structures, and not being able to feel as included in these holidays may come from a variety of different reasons. Some students’ parent might have passed away, or they may not be involved in their lives. Some students’ parents live far away, and some come from blended families or single-sex families where the family structure is a bit different. We’ve gathered some tips to help you navigate these situations to allow for all students to feel included and heard.
At the start of the year, or at the nearest parent-teacher conference to Mother’s and Father’s Day, reach out to your students’ parents to ask them if there is anything you need to know about the students’ home life that will be relevant to how they celebrate these days. You may become aware of some of this information as you get to know your students throughout the year, however, it’s always good to reach out and find out if there is anything else you aren’t aware of to better support your students.
Allow for flexibility:
Be aware that if these days are difficult to any of your students, some of the parents may choose to not send them to school on the day it’s due to be celebrated. Be understanding when it comes to this and try to see if these are other ways you can support with this. For example, if you plan on running a Mother’s Day class, consider sending a letter out to all parents letting them know the date that you plan on having that class, so they can plan accordingly.
When creating your Mother’s and Father’s Day activities in the classroom, consider how you can include students who come from different family structures. This can be as simple as instead of saying “today we are making a card for our moms” say “today we are making a card for a special person in our lives: it can be your mom, aunt, family friend”. You may choose to do this for the whole class or offer it as an alternative discreetly to those students who you know might struggle on that day. You can also consider other inclusive activities like leaving blanks for the students to fill in their chosen information like in this inclusion questionnaire.
While some adjustments will need to be made, supporting your students and celebrating their differences would help them navigate a time that may be challenging for them, or making them feel included at a time they may feel excluded.