The non-holiday approach to December is really easy- Just KEEP IT SIMPLE! As children are bombarded from every direction with special days, special treats, special shopping trips, special visits, and special everything, child care can be an oasis of calm in an otherwise really hectic season.
Think of one child you know who really struggles with change. New transitions really set her off. A day away from the playground may completely stress her out. Now, multiply that by 20 or 30. That is what December can be like for kids. Change, inconsistency, built-up expectations, let-downs, and a whole lot of sugar.
Now, imagine your classroom as an island of calm and consistency. Children arrive and play and have snack and nap. They have expectations about their days and those expectations are met every day. You are calm, they are calm, and everyone knows what is happening. It is that easy. Parents may not like it at first, but they will grow to love it. They will know that their child will be well-taken care of just like the rest of the year and they will not have any additional burdens placed on them by their children’s school. They will be thrilled when they find out that there is no cookie exchange, there is no holiday get-together, that they do not have to purchase special dress-up clothes for their children. They will be thrilled when they realize that the religious holidays belong at home.
Now, if you run a faith-based program, you can still keep it simple, Even if you do recognize the religious holidays, you do NOT have to go over the top. Activities appropriate to the occasion as they arise from the children’s interests are perfectly acceptable. Try not to have a party every day. You will be glad you didn’t.