Why it’s ok preschool teach a different form of Christmas

frosty santa

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.
santa claus snow
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 class room 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?
frosty santa

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 are 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 . If you live in the North East of England, you can donate unwrapped presents for children aged 0-18 through Metro Radio’s Mission Christmas appeal.

    Let’s try to make Christmas magical for everyone.

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    1 Comment

    1. January 2, 2017 / 10:23 pm

      Wow, I’m not sure I would have been happy that my son’s preschool used Santa as behaviour control either. I think all form of rewards/punishment is inappropriate and preschools staff should know better and being trained in positive discipline. For me the elf on the shelf (or the fairy in your situation) is like a Big Brother watching all we do and it’s never good to threaten our kids. I don’t believe poor or not poor children need or should experience Santa for the sake of it, because most people celebrate it that way. For me, Christmas is about being kind to each other (Saint Nicholas was the real Saint who became the children Santa and was a kind man who used to give gifts to people anonymously), helping the community, spending time as a family and also celebrating all that Winter has to offer (walk in the cold, and coming back home to drink a hot chocolate!). I used to work in a preschool (for more than 10 years) and in the last one, we were celebrating Santa with lots of crafts, telling the story of Santa by reading books, singing songs but we never used a naughty/good list, an elf on the shelf or threaten the children. They all get a gift on the last day of the term and we had a Christmas party when we used to make reindeer food, Christmas decorations for the Christmas tree and it was a lot of fun for everyone. You can check my blog if you are curious, I have a blog post about why I don’t make my children believe in Santa.
      But I think it’s great that you have linked your post to Santa Christmas appeal. (My current child’s preschool opened their doors on Christmas day for the families who had no money to celebrate Christmas, for lonely people and they hosted a meal, we donated toys and necessities and they managed to distribute around 40 care packages and toys for children in needs)

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