Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 and offers the opportunity to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of those who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. During this time, educators can encourage students to learn about various Hispanic cultures and create space for reflection. It’s also the perfect time to make your students feel seen and understood by gaining insight into their backgrounds and families.
From our communities to our classrooms, diversity creates a dynamic and beautiful place to live and learn. For Hispanic Heritage Month, it helps to ground your students in the varieties of backgrounds and countries that make up this celebration. According to a recent Pew Research Report, United States citizens of Mexican origin account for nearly 62% (about 37.2 million) of the nation’s overall Hispanic population as of 2019. Those of Puerto Rican heritage are the next largest group at 5.8 million. Other significant Hispanic communities include Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians, and Hondurans.
There is much to discover, learn, and celebrate with roots that stretch worldwide during this month. Get your class involved and talking with some of the following ideas:
- Excite your students through the arts by introducing Hispanic artists such as Diego Rivera, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Frida Kahlo. Introduce one new artist a week and set aside time to allow students to journal their reactions.
- Share delicious recipes like arepas, flat corn cakes often eaten in Colombia and Venezuela, or empanadillas, savory turnovers from Puerto Rico. You can even throw a lunch that features various dishes or ask students to talk about a meal that reflects their own background.
- Invite students to explore Latinx music artists and make their own Spotify playlists to share with the class. You can also recommend books by Latinx authors like Isabel Allende or Erika L. Sanchez—or even choose one to read together during a lunchtime book club.
- Give students a chance to tell their own story—either to the class or in a check-in with Along. It’s important to remember that students, just like adults, have a unique experience with their cultural backgrounds. So rather than place focus on an individual students’ identity, help create a safe space for students to openly discuss the differences in Hispanic culture.
- Recognize Hispanic public figures, from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to soccer superstar Lionel Messi. Inform students of the contributions made by Americans of diverse heritage and discuss how communities benefit from the addition of different cultures. When students see achievements made by others with a similar background to them, it opens the awareness for what’s possible.
- Take a trip around the world by having students study different countries or cities. Give students an opportunity to share highlights and explain where they’d like to visit.
Continue the conversation with Along
By celebrating the cultures of your students, you’re developing a key building block to forming strong developmental relationships. It shows that you’re seeing where your students are coming from and what informs their perspective. It’s a level of respect that all your students will appreciate — regardless of their background.
And keep in mind that Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t need to be limited to the classroom. Visit the Along Content Library to find questions that encourage students to reflect further on their own time and in their own way. And, of course, the conversation doesn’t have a deadline of October 15. You never know what topics might be started that you’ll be enjoying throughout the whole year.
Ready to start? Log in to your Along account and explore Along’s Content Library today.