In our curriculum and classroom practices, we try to model and foster appreciation, understanding, and mutual respect for varied beliefs. Rather than limit our study of diversity to specific events or individuals, we strive to integrate various cultures and values into our classrooms regularly and invite students to enrich discussions with their own ethnic traditions and experiences.
Teachers acknowledge holidays by teaching about how and when they are celebrated, histories, and generally agreed-upon meanings. Students explore primary sources and rich literature to learn about the origins and importance of religious, secular, and national holidays. Classes examine the common thematic elements – such as peace, thankfulness, and forgiveness — of holidays, including those from many world religions. This broad-based approach, neither promoting nor inhibiting particular religious practices, allows all children to participate in all aspects of their classrooms.
Throughout the year, we provide many opportunities for children, faculty, and families to come together in celebration; we seek to ensure that all celebrations contribute meaningfully to the community and to the education of all students.
Our goal is to create classrooms in which each child feels secure, comfortable, and proud of his or her individualism, traditions, culture, and religion.
Our classroom doors are always open to parents, guardians, and extended family members. Throughout the year, there may be opportunities for family members to share pictures, foods, and artifacts from their culture or ethnic background in the classroom.
Every fall, following the first six weeks of school, each class plans a “Family Event” as an opportunity for family members to come into the classroom and celebrate students’ learning. These celebrations will be connected to a class focus, goal, or achievement and have a curricular focus, in addition to being entertaining and fun. For example, students may walk family members through “a day in the life.”
In the spring, families will be invited to attend Character Day, as part of our Read Across America Celebration. Classes will choose a book or author to honor and share.
In addition, throughout the year, Brent staff plan a variety of school-wide events to bring the community together in celebration of learning. These have included Museum Exhibition Nights, Publishing Parties, Math Night, and Concerts.
Teachers may ask for volunteers or supplies for class learning celebrations. If you are interested in supporting class celebrations, contact your child’s teacher.
A child’s birthday can be the most important day of his or her year. In our classrooms, we incorporate birthday recognition into the educational program in a variety of ways. In order to maintain classroom time for these and other learning experiences, we ask that you not send individual treats or gifts to be shared with classmates.
If you would like to participate in the classroom program on your child’s birthday, please consult with the teacher. Some ways families have contributed to a child’s celebration at school are:
- Sending in a favorite book. A family member or teacher can read it to the class.
- Preparing your child to share her or his birthday tradition. Children have opportunities to share during Class Meetings.
- Donating a book to the classroom or school library in honor of your child’s birthday.
Incorporating the Arts
We have a strong arts program that serves all of our students and supports our curricular goals.
- We promote creativity and development of motor skills through process – not product – oriented arts activities.
- We encourage open-ended exploration with authentic materials, rather than traditional holiday arts and crafts, which often oversimplify the themes of these holidays or, at worst, reinforce stereotypes and historically inaccurate information.
- Our writing program allows students to make choices about what and how they communicate. We provide tools for students to write notes, cards, and letters to friends and family throughout the year.
The DCPS Social Studies standards mandate specific civics topics, including historic events, American values, and National holidays, be taught and assessed in certain grades. In addition, Brent staff use a variety of resources to determine academic priorities.
For the DCPS Social Studies standards of learning, visit dcps.dc.gov. For additional information about certain holidays, see below. We welcome additional input and suggestions to support our work.