Here at Moving Beyond the Page, we love taking time to celebrate during the holidays! We love getting together with family, giving gifts to loved ones, eating delicious meals, and decorating the Christmas tree. The Age 4-5 and Age 6-8 levels of our curriculum include activities and units that explore the traditions of Christmas. For some people this has raised a concern: "How can a secular curriculum have books that reference Christmas?" The answer to this question is very simple.
Christmas is a universal holiday.
If you are giving your child a Christmas gift this holiday season, you don't need to ask why we include Christmas in our curriculum. You are the reason. You and the 300,000,000 of your fellow citizens that make Christmas such a fun and universal holiday.
Christmas is celebrated by 93% of all Americans. For something to be this universal, it is, by definition, also secular. While it is true that most Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas, so do most Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and Muslims. The celebration of Christmas is as diverse as the country we call home. This makes it an important part of our culture and something we would be remiss not to include in our social studies curriculum.
What do you do about the religious traditions surrounding Christmas?
Nothing... We simply don't bring them up. We focus on the celebrations that are universal, secular, and loved by (almost) everybody.
If your family includes religious traditions with your celebrations, you are certainly free to add them in on your own. If you don't include religious traditions, you can teach the curriculum as it is written or add in your family's unique traditions.
What if our family doesn't celebrate Christmas?
If your family does not celebrate Christmas, we still think Moving Beyond the Page can still be a good fit for your family. There are a few items, however, that you may want to consider regarding our treatment of Christmas in the curriculum.
In the Age 4-5 level, the Christmas unit is intended to be a fun celebration of Christmas. We don't introduce any new academic content. You can choose to skip this unit and be confident your child won't be missing out on any important instruction.
The Age 6-8 level is a bit more complicated, but since the entire treatment of Christmas takes place in one daily lesson, it would be easy to work around. In Lesson 2 of the unit called People Around the World, we use Christmas as a concrete example of a cultural tradition. We teach children what a cultural tradition is and then explain that traditions in other countries are different. We use the traditions around Christmas as a case in point. This lesson is followed by lessons that show other aspects of daily life that also vary between cultures, like religion, housing, geography, transportation, and recreation. Once we have laid this groundwork, we begin an exploration of cultures in different parts of the world. It really is a beautiful three-week journey that is intended to open the eyes of young children to the beauty found in the different cultures of the world. If Christmas is not a tradition in your family, however, your child may not grasp the intended meaning of Lesson 2. A great workaround would be to choose a different tradition that is important to your family and modify the lesson to use that tradition instead.
And to all a good night!
Your homeschool is important to you, and we are honored that you have chosen Moving Beyond the Page to be a part of it. With Moving Beyond the Page, you will always have control over the content that is presented to your children. We sincerely hope, and indeed expect, that you will modify lessons from time to time. In most cases it will be obvious how to proceed, but if you ever have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us for recommendations.