As the holiday season is in full swing here at All Day Montessori and it really has gotten me thinking about Santa. Now I should say that I was raised in a Jewish household and Santa was never a conversation that we had to have. From a very young age I remember knowing that Santa was not real but that a lot of my friends thought he was. I vividly recall my concern about the concept of not telling the truth to my classmates but my mom swore me to secrecy on the subject so I bit my tongue.
As a Montessori teacher I try to create a very open and accepting environment in my classroom. Around wintertime I decided I wanted to share with my classroom all three of the major winter holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. I did this by creating new works, finding puzzles, and having books readily available for my students. As could be expected my first year teaching on these subjects Santa came up in conversation. I had a six year old come to me and say, “Santa isn’t real right Ms. Caitlyn?” I was honestly unsure how to answer this, ethically I try to never lie to my students, but morally I was not about to be the one to tell this kid the truth. I decided to go with the response “I am not sure, what do you think?” This not only saved me from telling a lie but also allowed me to put the question back on the student to reflect on.
When looking back at many of my books by Montessori I was curious on what she would have said in that situation. In my reading I noticed the consistent theme of reality in her text. She talks about how when children are given toys as well as real household items they tended to gravitate to the realistic items. She also felt that the concept of imagination had to be based on reality. Armed with this information I think it is safe to say Montessori was not a fan of the whole Santa thing.
With all that being said, I will not EVER tell a child Santa is not real but I also will not play it up in my classroom. Still allowing me to stick to my Montessori roots, and what I promised my mother at a young age, but also furthering my creation of a loving accepting environment in my classroom.