As we celebrate and honor caregivers in schools, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be opportunities to recognize the diversity of family structures.
If you include recognition of Mother’s and Father’s Day in your curriculum, this guide offers ideas for making those activities more welcoming for all students and their families.
Inclusive celebrations can serve as important learning experiences by providing opportunities to discuss and acknowledge the many kinds of families in our communities and the many caregivers
who are in students’ lives.
These holidays can also create teachable moments for older elementary students about gender and how the roles of mother and father are tied to certain gender stereotypes and do not include non-binary identities.
For some students, it may be especially affirming to see their families acknowledged in the classroom. When students feel seen and understood at school, they fare better both emotionally and academically.
Create a Love Makes a Family display for your school hallway with student drawings of their families or caring communities.
Find out from your students or their families and caregivers the language they use to talk about their families. This will help you guide students through any conversations that come up during the discussion.
Make sure that you talk about the different people in your students’ lives who could receive any cards or gifts students might create.
With older elementary students, discuss the qualities that caregivers have and explore why these qualities have often been associated with a specific gender. Questions you could discuss include:
What are important qualities for caregivers to have? Can any caregiver have these?
What kinds of things do caregivers do for or with their children? Can any caregiver do these things?
For younger students, steer clear of activities that involve gender stereotyping—like making cards shaped like ties for Father’s Day.
If you do plan to hold an event for either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day where students invite a caregiver to the school, make sure no student is alone while most others have someone who can attend. Call on other people within your school, such as aides or other staff, to be there for students.
Welcoming Schools encourages schools to celebrate with a Parents’ Day or Family Day so that activities can be more inclusive of the many families in their school, including those with non-binary identities.
Recognize that there may be students in your class who have lost a caregiver or whose caregiver is absent, and difficult emotions may come up if you celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in your classroom
What is a Family? (K – 2)
Trees of Caring: Roots and Wings (1 – 3)