Introduction

Mother’s and Father’s Day are both holidays which are celebrated to honor motherhood and fatherhood, respectively. However, nowadays not all families have the “traditional” structure, consisting of one mother and one father. Some students are raised by single parents, unmarried biological parents, LGBTQ parents, grandparents, or guardians who are not related to them. These holidays are not very inclusive towards students who don’t have a “normal” family structure, but they can be if changes are made. Educators can make the holidays more inclusive by utilizing the resources below and, most importantly, by recognizing that not all families are the same, and that’s okay.

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching about inclusive Mother’s and Father’s Day. All of the lesson plans, articles, and informational sites below will help you to make your classroom more inclusive on these holidays.

Lesson Plans

  1. Celebrating Inclusive Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: Welcoming Schools offers various lesson plans and suggested books for students which will help encourage them to embrace all types of families on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. This guide provides three plans for K-2 students: “Diverse Families on Mother’s & Father’s Days,” “The Great Big Book of Families: Discussion Guide,” and “What is a Family.” In addition, “Trees of Caring: Roots and Wings” is geared towards students in grades 1-3 and “Where I’m From: Family, Community and Poetry” in grades 4-6. Lastly, the site links additional lesson plans to help educators and students welcome all families (in whatever form they come in) into your school.
  2. Stella Brings the Family: ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, provides educators with a brief summary of the children’s book Stella Brings the Family which tells the story of a young girl who has two dads. This book also portrays other family configurations “that may cause teachers and family members to rethink how they discuss holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.” ADL also offers talking points and conversation starters along with a list of suggested books and additional ADL resources on LGBTQ people and homophobia/heterosexism.
  3. My Family Rocks!: This lesson aims to help students “recognize and accept differences among themselves and within the larger community” and “recognize how each student’s unique family contributes to a richer society.” The plan, though it does not focus specifically on inclusive Mother’s and Father’s Day, will help students to learn about different types of family structures. Included are objectives, essential questions, materials, a framework, a recommended resource, a glossary, and directions for the main and extension activity.

Articles

  1. We Are Family: Making Classrooms Inclusive for All Families: ADL published an article on making classrooms inclusive for all families. In this piece, the author makes reference to the children’s book from one of their lessons, Stella Brings the Family, and makes a few different suggestions for making all children be included and comfortable to be themselves on Mother’s and Father’s Day, no matter what their family structure looks like. Reading through some of these suggestions may help you figure out how to make these holidays more inclusive in the classroom!
  2. Affirming Many Variations of Family: This brief article from Teaching Tolerance recounts how the author, Bronwyn Harris, learned about children having two moms or two dads and carried this knowledge over into her teaching career by attempting to make her classroom more inclusive to all types of families. This piece will inspire educators to find creative ways to make Mother’s and Father’s Day fun holidays for all of your students, even those with more diverse families.
  3. Honor Father’s Day in a Way That Includes All LGBTQ Families: This article includes expert advice for honoring Father’s Day in a way that includes all LGBTQ families. The author provides information on understanding how children in LGBTQ families might feel about the holiday, acknowledging how LGBTQ families celebrate (or don’t celebrate), and learning how you can be an ally to the LGBTQ families in your life and your school community. Additionally, recommendations regarding what all families and what schools can do to make Father’s Day more inclusive is provided. (All of these recommendations can also be utilized to make Mother’s Day more inclusive.)

Informational Articles

  1. Mother’s Day 2020: History.com provides an abundance of valuable information on the history of Mother’s Day, Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe, Jarvis conceiving the idea of Mother’s Day, and how Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world. This site may not offer any history regarding inclusive Mother’s Day, but it is important for students to understand how this holiday came to be and how it is celebrated in locations around the world in order for them to grasp why it is so important for all families to be included on this celebrated day.
  2. Father’s Day 2020: History.com also provides much information on how Mother’s Day was an inspiration for Father’s Day, the origins of Father’s Day, controversy and commercialism related to Father’s Day, and more. 

Conclusion

Teaching about inclusive Mother’s and Father’s Day isn’t an easy task because it can be tough for students, especially the younger students, to understand that not all families are the same. Educators have the power to make their classrooms more inclusive on these holidays, which will help students to understand that the uniqueness of each family is what makes them special and therefore that all kids should feel comfortable on both of these days. Using the tools provided above will help you to make your classroom more inclusive and teach students about diverse family structures. 

Additional Resources

  1. Alternatives to Mother’s Day Cards: Scholastic provides an article on alternatives to Mother’s Day Cards, as there are many children and adults whose mothers have passed away, who have two fathers or transgender parents, or who have a different family structure. The author suggests honoring grandmothers, aunts, fathers, family friends, or school helpers on this special day.
  2. A Conversation in Hello – Being Inclusive of all Families on Father’s Day: naeyc highlights a few post from a conversation about Father’s Day, which discuss suggestions on Father’s Day gifts (for a student who has two mothers), how to include diverse families in everyday customs and practices, the complexity of many families, etc.
  3. Mother’s Day Crafts: This brief article discusses a few different inclusive Mother’s Day activities, including songs and a bring your mother or “mother-like figure” to school day, and information on how some organizations and schools have approached making this day one that can be celebrated by every student.
  4. Welcoming Family Diversity in the Classroom: education world offers an explanation of the different types of diverse family structures and five ways that educators can celebrate family diversity in the classroom, including offering books that address a range of family experiences, using inclusive communication and language, keeping activities general, presenting visual diversity, and setting expectations of respect in the classroom.