Thursday, 25 October 2012

Christmas.....Nativity or not to Nativity???

          Christmas is coming and settings have to decide whether to put on a show!

It is something everyone can relate to Christmas.........the Nativity play. Hundreds of schools across the country are getting ready to start preparing themselves for the big event. Parents wonder what characters their child will play and how to make the costumes and teachers get stressed rehearsing over and over again!! So, is the whole Nativity thing really good for the Early Years setting??

I have been a part of many Christmas performances during my time in Childcare. I have helped babies be angels and snowflakes, dressed up as a Drummer drumming, and been the narrator several times as well as organising my own Christmas performances for pre schoolers.  Many parents do expect their children to take part in some form of performance, and are most upset when settings announce they are not doing one. They do tend to put pressure on staff to create something they can look back on and invite the Grandparents to come and see.

However, there are so many issues which Practitioners have to face when pulling off such a feat :

1. First, what sort of production are you going to produce?

Nativities are the traditional route, but with our country and nurseries being so diverse with culture in today's society, other ideas are now being used. I have done "When Santa got stuck up the Chimney" along the lines of many people trying to help pull Santa out of the chimney in an Enormous turnip-esque style, "The twelve days of Christmas", where the children dress up and sing each day of the song, "Whoops- a- Daisy Angel, a twist on the traditional Nativity and even just a simple Carol service.

2. Who is sorting out the costumes?

Many parents are happy to help by contributing a costume for their child, but you do get the odd person who for whatever reason, do not supply one for their child. Some settings do make some form of head gear for the children to wear for example, ears for sheep, crowns for kings. But, this can cause extra stress for staff when trying to organise their show!

3. Who decides the cast?

They may have a lot to answer for!! Many parents do feel put out if their child is not a King, or Mary and instead is playing the role of a donkey, but you cannot please everyone! This is where having a simple carol service with the children, or choosing a show which is not the Nativity can prove beneficial, as nobody has the "best" role!!

4. What about Health and Safety??

It is important to be aware of the Health and Safety guidelines of the setting. Fire regulations may mean that the amount of people in the room are limited to 2 per child. This can also cause some upset with parents wanting to invite the whole world to show off their child's acting abilities, but it is very important to adhere to. Fire Exits must be pointed out to the audience before the show too.

5. Most importantly, what about the children?

Do the children WANT to be in a play? Even though there may not be words for them to speak, just some songs to sing, do they really want to be dressed up and sat on a stage in front of lots of people? Many young children find the whole process confusing and upsetting, and the parents often get upset when their child hasn't joined in. But, if a child sees their parents in the audience, they may want to be with them and should be allowed to do so, rather than sit and cry throughout the whole process. Again, this is where a Carol service comes out on top as then children can go to their parents if they wish to sing with them!

6. What about the extra stress for staff?

It is a very stressful time for all involved, which can reflect in the children's behaviour. The parents have a lot of expectations when it comes to a nativity or Christmas performance, and this can really put the pressure on the staff. I must admit, I have enjoyed the final performance part, when the children are all happy and the parents love what they have seen, but not everyone enjoys the experience. There are often times when you have sad children because their parents couldn't make it, or they had to go afterwards to get back to work and couldn't take their child home. These things happen and it is down to the staff to deal with it.

So, to nativity or not nativity......that is the question?? I think there are so many issues to take into account, that it is down to the discretion of the staff and management to really think about the children and the staff and what sort of production, if any will suit their setting. Personally, I think a Christmas sing a long is the best way forward, and leave the Nativity and big productions to when the children are in school and a lot older! What do you think????

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