Teaching Our Children About Their Cultures
My family celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day because we are primarily Irish. We wear green, enjoy a corned beef and cabbage dinner, and decorate the house with shamrocks, Leprechauns, and pots of god. We may listen to some Irish music and read Irish folklore. We also talk about what we value most about our family heritage.
Culturally Sensitive School Celebrations
During the winter months our students celebrate a variety of culturally sensitive holidays at school. These include Martin Luther King Junior Day, presidents’ holidays, and the Cesar Chavez holiday. Several also celebrate Chinese New Year, the Tet Festival, or Saint Patrick’s Day with their families. We write stories about favorite holidays and share details about how our families celebrate a specific holiday. Most students describe a special meal that was part of the celebration with culturally relevant foods and traditions. Many families typically invite relatives to these special meals and celebrations.
At the end of this cultural unit, students will write their version of their family’s bill of rights with a mission statement or the values of their family. When considering the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights protects the basic rights of community members. These include the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and worship. Here is an example of a family’s mission statement with some rights within a family:
Creating a Family Bill of Rights
Our family’s mission statement is to protect, respect, and support each other in our healthy development of individual family members. Our family’s bill of rights includes these 10 freedoms:
- The right to be respected and supported by each family member
- The right to have individual needs expressed and supported by family members
- The right to express individual feelings and beliefs about a situation without threats of being ridiculed or punished for those beliefs
- The right to attend school and participate in extra-curricular activities and team sports
- The right to participate in age-appropriate social and physical fitness activities with friends
- The right to participate in service learning, community services, community leadership activities
- The right to go to church and participate in age-appropriate church sponsored social activities
- The right to explore and plan for a career path and college preparation
- The right to work in a job with school-supportive hours while also attending high school
- The right to help family members with project-based learning activities
A Family’s Bill of Rights Impacts a Family’s Values
Whenever, we complete this project with parents and their children, families are able to focus on what their values, mission, and bill of rights are for their family. These provide guidance with goals of what they would like their family to achieve. Many families frame or post their family’s mission statement and bill of rights in a prominent place in their home. These become a motto for family harmony and a guide for family growth.
Much success as you celebrate your family heritage and identify your family’s values with a mission statement to support the development of your family’s bill of rights.
Copyright © 2021 by GenParenting
Mary Ann Burke, Ed.D., Digital Education Expert, is a substitute distance learning teacher for Oak Grove School District in San Jose, California and the author of STUDENT-ENGAGED ASSESSMENT: Strategies to Empower All Learners (Rowman & Littlefield: 2020). Dr. Burke creates digital language arts and substitute teaching K – 12 activities for teachers and parents. She is the Cofounder of the Genparenting.com blog. Burke is the former Director II of Categorical & Special Projects for the Santa Clara County Office of Education that supports 31 school districts serving 272,321 students in Santa Clara County. She is also a previous Director – State & Federal Compliance for Oakland Unified School District, the former Director – Grantwriter for the Compton Unified School District, and was the initial VISTA Director for the Community Partnership Coalition in southern California. Much of her work focuses on creating innovative digital trainings and partnership programs for teachers and families to support students’ learning. These programs were featured as a best practice at a National Title I Conference, California’s Title I Conferences, AERA Conferences, an ASCD Conference, the NASSP Conference, and statewide educator conferences.