There are so many awareness days, weeks and events these days it is hard to keep up! Then there are holidays and observance days too.
This week alone was sea week, children’s day, pancake day, international women’s day and world book day.
So, how do you decide which to celebrate and how?
Some are easy or easier, like Valentines day. For many this is an easy ‘no’ but for others they use this day as an impetus to celebrate kindness, giving and caring. For other days it gets a little more difficult.
One of those days is Waitangi day. This may surprise you and as a teacher you may just do it but another teacher shared with me a different viewpoint. She said “We don't celebrate Waitangi Day in our setting, as we uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi everyday”. I was very interested in this and had a robust conversation about this and then went away and reflected on it. I could see merit in her statement and practice, I knew that she certainly walked the talk. But would this be the same for me and other teachers and is this enough not to celebrate it in an early childhood setting? I failed to ask if she and her team acknowledged the day. I think this may have been the sticking point for me. I can understand not celebrating it but I would not want to not acknowledge it and its importance for Māori and Pakeha in New Zealand.
I looked at what was happening across the ditch with Australia Day, the protests and angst around the day and what it stood for. The cry for it to be changed and re-naming the day 'invasion day' by the protestors. I can see why there is disharmony and and an outcry as there was no Treaty signed with the indigenous people of Australia when they were colonised. With this I thought that the fact there is a Treaty and it has provided Māori with grounds to rectify injustices like land returned and te reo Māori language recognised as an official language of New Zealand is well worth celebrating.
The other difficulty with celebration days and week is the timing. And the timing or clash of Waiatangi Day and Lunar or Chinese New Year is a hard one. Do you celebrate both? Which do you celebrate?
I believe this come s down to the localised curriculum. For me Waitangi Day is a given and Lunar or Chinese New Year is decided by the context and make up of the early childhood setting. In my setting their Each year I like to introduce at least one resource that can be used at any time or all the time within the early childhood setting.
Last year I got traditional eating and tea utensils and crockery and added wool for noodles. This is now part of the dramatic play area.
This year I made an arch and coloured wooden peg dolls for play. These were initially set up as a small world for the children to play with. Rhymes and books were used alongside it. After the celebrations were over, I added them to the blocks and they are there all the time to be played with.
I also introduced a mooncake mold this year. This was used at the dough table throughout the week and is now a permanent part of the dough items that children can self-select.
With Waiatangi day I feel it is important to get involved in the community celebrations and have found the parents often do not know that these are on. A simple notice on a board or electronically giving local options is increasing awareness and understanding.
Lastly, I use Waitangi day as a time to reflect. Reflect on how far I have come, revaluate my goals and set new ones and celebrate my achievement in my own bi-cultural journey. I often think that this would be a great time for teams to do the same.