Recently my son’s preschool has been doing Christmas in a big way. They’ve had the elf, Santa, snow, and such a lot of full on crazy fun! I was a bit grumpy when I heard some of the ideas he’s heard at preschool because they’re not things I’ve adopted at home. But then I had a change of heart.
James has come home from preschool hyped up, and full of new ideas about Christmas.
“Did you know that if you’re not good, all you get for Christmas is a lump of coal?” he told me, wide eyed, yet quite matter-of-factly while I was helping him dress one morning.
“An elf is watching if the light up there [points to the burglar alarm sensor] is red. If it’s green it’s Santa!” Later he went into panic mode about this one. He really didn’t want to be watched while at home. This is when my grumpiness started, actually. Having to calm a 4-year-old down because of some crazy thing you’ve never heard yourself is a bit disconcerting.
During his lunch over the weekend he explained that Noah wouldn’t be on the “good list” because he hadn’t used kind hands yesterday afternoon. I began to think preschool should have sent a list of Christmas “lessons” home, so we knew what to expect and talk about.
At preschool they’ve got a fairy who moves around the room, getting into all kinds of scrapes. She’s basically that elf but in a different form. One day we went in to find her caught in the jaws of a dinosaur. Boys eagerly piled chairs on top of each other to try to get her down. The children rushed for circle time to try to problem solve together how to save the fairy from the dino.
Santa has visited his classroom this week. He’s heard their singing and listened to their requests for presents on the big day. The preschoolers also got a little present.
At first, when all this started, I was a bit annoyed. I haven’t used Christmas as a behaviour control at home. My dad reckons I’ve missed a trick, and that I haven’t done Santa properly; I could’ve had a “good” child for the majority of December, or else not bother to begin the lie.
And as it continued, answering questions about secular Christmas I hadn’t expected to be asked, I realised that this way of doing Christmas with pre-schoolers isn’t really that different to the rest of the country. Maybe I wasn’t doing Christmas right?
Now I have seen videos his teachers have taken and sent home, and the excitement and wonder in their little 3- and 4-year-old eyes, I think it’s a great idea that preschool is doing Christmas.
- It means I don’t have to do the elf. You know the elf who gets up to mischief overnight like making snow angels in the flour in the kitchen or swinging from the lights. The fairy who gets into scrapes each day is enough!
- It means that James gets some magical, fun, fantasy time at school. In an age of tests for 3-year-olds and schools that operate to teach kids how to pass exams, it’s actually quite refreshing to know that my son has had fun playing for the whole time he’s been “at school”.
- And it means that the children in poverty in the classroom will have an experience of Christmas that they might not get at home.
Did you know that 9 out of 30 children in an average classroom in the UK are in poverty? 64% of children living in poverty have at least one working parent. Preschool doing an exciting Christmas end of term is ok by me. It might not match exactly the idea of Christmas I wanted to give my child, particularly the “lump of coal” thing, but it’s still more exciting than many children get. I do still think that Santa’s good list isn’t helpful; children in poverty can be as good as they possibly can be, and yet still not get a present.
If you’d like to find out the level of child poverty in your area, click here to view the map . Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a way to help kids in poverty this Christmas.
Let’s try to make Christmas magical for everyone.