Our five-year-old, Jacob, ran through the house the other day shouting, "Happy Kwanza! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Jill commented, "Well, our public schools met their goal . . . did you hear Jacob?"
The goal of our children's school related to this holiday season was to make the students aware of and help them respect all the various forms of celebration. Anna, our eight-year-old, danced in a Jewish Hanukkah dance in a program called "A Wonderland of Holidays." A muslim boy read a description of Ramadan, other students read descriptions of Christmas and Hanukkah.
I remember a Jewish boy I knew in my public grade school. In the 70s in Oklahoma we sang Silent Night and I remember bulletin boards about Christ's birth, but Scott Schaffer had to sit out while the rest of us sang Christmas carols and celebrated Christmas alone. Today, public schools are still allowed to talk about religions, as long as major representative religions are given equal time.
I wonder about this experience my children are having. Does this openness and understanding benefit them ultimately? We celebrate Advent and Christmas as a celebration of Christ's birth at home, so I think their awareness of others around them, what they celebrate, is important--as long as we are teaching our beliefs strongly at home.
What do you think? What's your experience with schools yourself and for your children?