Celebrating Mother’s and Father’s Day in Day Care: A guide for educators and service providers

The other day I answered a question about celebrating mother’s and father’s day in day care, and although it may surprise you, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been asked “What can we make for the babies to give their mum/dad this mother’s/father’s day”?

One of the most valuable questions I was taught to ask when reflecting is,”Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged?” which can be applied to almost any of your practices. A reflective educator considers so much more than single parenting arrangements. (I have provided some further considerations below)

It’s hard to find an early childhood educator that doesn’t do something in their program to celebrate mother’s/father’s day, however choosing what to do can often take a lot of time effort, planning and preparation.

We all know by now that families come in all shapes and sizes, and also what children experience in early childhood stays with them forever.

The very first year I worked with children, I was straight out of high school, knew nothing about early years and fell in love with early childhood. It was also that same year that I wanted gifts for the children to give to their fathers. I painted small terracotta pots (with the children’s help) one for each child, made the cards and had each child contribute something (their name, a drawing or scribble etc.) wrapped and presented them to each family.

Over the years I have made a range of gifts, from poems, bookmarks to picture frames and much more in between and at times the contribution from the child was minimal to say the least. These were undoubtedly my projects.

Now days, our critical reflection leads us to follow children’s interests and abilities and take on a range of perspectives when planning what and how we celebrate special days. So, when I hear that question “what can babies make for mother’s/father’s day”? I know not all perspectives have been taken into consideration. 

Here’s some perspectives for you to consider when celebrating mother’s and father’s day in day care.

Perspectives to consider when celebrating mother’s and father’s day in day care

What are you teaching the children about gifts and gift giving, have you considered why you think about celebrations days they way you do?

Are you celebrating mother’s/father’s day in a way you feel you have to? Are you doing it the way you were conditioned by your own family or have been influenced by media and advertising?

Additionally, what are you teaching about the expectations of a mother or father? For example, are you teaching that all mothers and fathers are loving, caring, available, and appreciative, play board games, work hard etc. Is your program reinforcing stereotypes of what a mother or father ‘should’ be?

By understanding your own conditioning, motivations and perspective, you will be able to challenge yourself and provide an informed educational program that caters to children and families and their way of ‘being’.

Parents perspective when celebrating mother’s and father’s day in day care

Depending on the elaborateness of the gifts it can raise a range of responses in family members such as, “Wow, this is a great gift. I know my child didn’t do it, so the educator must have. Did the educator put all of this time and effort into this gift for me? Why”?

Families may react differently, some may feel obligated to ‘pay back’, some may feel unappreciative, and some may feel embarrassed you have gone to great lengths for them.

There is also the risk of family members concluding that, “If the educator has this much time on their hands (even though you’ve spent hours of your own time they are not aware of) then the job of an educator must be an easy one.

By thinking about the reactions your gift giving may be provoking in others will inform your practices, recognise if you are placing additional pressure on families such as feeling as though they now owe you a gift, and make your celebrations more genuine.

Personal Perspective when celebrating mother’s and father’s day in day care

Many people do not fit the ‘ideal’ you may be portraying to children. For me personally, I have always had a strained relationship with my mother. She was different to the stereotype, she was tough and made me stand on my own two feet so to speak. I never related to the ‘stereotype’ of what was being portrayed by my schools and the media of what a mother ‘should’ be. This resulted in feelings of isolation, insecurity and embarrassment, which I now know was unfair to both me and my mother, and I came to dread mother’s day.

Contemporary Thinking

Labels such as girl/boy or role expectations of ‘mothers’ and fathers’ and even clothing styles for men and women are all being questioned and reinterpreted. As educators, it is our duty to challenge stereotypes and really think about we are teaching children. We’ve moved on from teaching children women are homemakers haven’t we?

Being aware of contemporary thinking does not mean you have to necessarily change you own way of ‘being’ but as an educationalist, it will inform your teaching and practices. Remember they are not your children, you are not their parent, you are their educator and reflection is not a choice, but a requirement of your role.

More work for you

All educators have a big job, with many tasks and responsibilities to attend to daily. In family day care even more so, because you are often alone to manage everything and it is your home business, so your responsibilities and your obligations are beyond those of an educator working in a centre.

The way you handle celebrations in your program can have an impact on feelings of overwhelm and being unappreciated, not to mention the impact on your budget.

The cost to business

Have you budgeted for gifts? I speak with many educators that after expenses they have little to no profit in their business. Celebrations are only one example of hidden costs in operating your business. If your budget caters for art and craft for the day to day operations and doesn’t include the additional costs of making gifts with children, this could see you spend more than allocated. And if you celebrate a number of days such as mothers day, Christmas, birthdays etc. it all adds up to hundreds of dollars from your budget.

So, when planning which celebrations you will be taking part in with the children (which could change every year) and what approach you are going to take, it’s vital you are aware of the additional workload, cost, and impact.

If you’d like to discuss how JPS can help you on your day care journey then book a consult here.

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