Excerpt from Rituals and Traditions: Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool
Historically, rituals and traditions have been important to every culture. They can be the glue that connects families every day and helps them through challenging times. Although the research to support this statement is clear, there is not nearly as much research about the benefits of the rituals and traditions in a school family. Anecdotally, the evidence is clear. While writing her master’s thesis, Jacky Howell heard from many former children and families. They shared their memories, including many about the rituals and traditions that were part of the class and program where Jacky was a teacher. The impact and importance of these rituals far outlasted the time the children and families spent in Jacky’s class. As you will read in this book, many families have continued these rituals and traditions. It is clear from the existing research and anecdotal information that this topic is critical to the field of early childhood education.
We have worked extensively with children in preschool classrooms, and we have discovered how rituals can assist children in times of stress, unite and connect people, create memories that last into adulthood, strengthen the bonds of a school family, and build a strong community. We pulled together information from personal experiences, working with other teachers and programs, and the research on rituals and traditions so we could share how both can be used in early childhood settings. Many of the stories in this book come from our experiences as a teacher, director, and trainer.
The impact of creating rituals and traditions is long-lasting. They build connections and provide an opportunity for everyone—children, families, and staff—to learn about themselves and others. They create an safe, warm, and secure environment where children are able to learn and grow. They offer learning experiences for children, staff, and families alike. They positively enhance both program and classroom environments. These rituals can become traditions that may last long after children have left your classroom or you stop teaching. This book provides information, anecdotes, and how to’s so you can create rituals and traditions in your own classroom or preschool program.
We hope that this book will encourage you to examine the rituals you have created or inspire you to begin developing rituals and traditions. We would love to hear about the rituals and traditions you develop. Write to us at [email protected].
From Rituals and Traditions: Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool, by J. Howell & K. Reinhard. Copyright © 2015 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.