I taught 3rd and 4th grade for a total of seven years, and no time of year had me more scared than the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It wasn’t because of conferences (those are usually over by then). It wasn’t because of midyear assessments (that never phased me). It actually had nothing to do with school at all; rather, it was because of Santa.
You see 3rd and 4th graders are an interesting age where they are starting to grow up and have their own thoughts and ideas, but are still clinging mightily to their youth and innocence. Therefore, some of them have learned that Santa may not be real, but others still have a strong belief and will for another few years. That is, until someone ruins it for them.
When I was in third grade, a “friend” (I use that term loosely in light of this story ) decided to open my eyes and drop the “Santa is not real” bombshell in the middle of the playground at recess. It rocked my world. When I got home that night, my parents did as much damage control as they could, but it was over, and Christmas lost a little of its magic that year.
I know that some families choose to believe in Santa, and some don’t. Some kids have already made the big discovery, and some haven’t. But every year at this time, I would send an email to the parents in my classroom asking them to talk to their non-believers about keeping their “special knowledge” to themselves. No teacher wants to have the “Is Santa real?” conversation in morning circle (yes, this happened to me), and no child really wants to find out on the playground right before Christmas.
Personally, I love the belief in Santa, and with our first baby about to have his first Christmas, I cannot wait to instill that magic in my household. As I look at his precious little face, I want him to stay little forever, and I want him to have those fun childhood experiences as long as he possibly can.
So, I beg you, no matter what age your kids are, if you have non-believers at home, please remind them that everyone has the right to believe what they want, as long as they want.