This Teacher Created a Holiday Self-Care Day For His Kindergarten Students

Self-care is touted as a way to treat ourselves with feel-good products and services that restore our mental and physical health. But contrarians think that the wellness industry has taken this buzzword to an unnecessary level of extravagance. (I mean, do you really need to attend $36 fitness classes for the sake of your well-being?) At least we can trust kids to know that the true meaning behind taking care of yourself is doing more of what makes you feel good — without breaking the bank. With that in mind, fourth-year kindergarten teacher, Azel “Zel” Prather Jr., created a “Holiday Hook-up” self-care day for his students in Washington, DC. He went above and beyond by reaching out to hairstylists, barbers, nail techs, and other volunteers to pamper his class.  

“Students have to know someone who looks like them and talks like them, and cares about them…inside and out of the classroom,” he told Because of Them We Can. Zel explained how important it is for parents to see their children getting the care that they deserve — especially when some don’t have the resources or time. 

“I believe if you look good, you feel good and if you feel good, you do good. I just want them to feel good for the holidays,” he said. 

As the Executive Director of the Prather Foundation, whose mission is to “inspire, empower and connect the youth with purposeful programming and the commitment of devoted mentors,” Zel enriches the lives of his students by helping them become successful leaders. Beyond preparing his students for the holidays with haircuts, braiding, and nail polish, he also hosts an annual “Zelf on the Shelf” toy drive,” where his foundation partners with primary schools to provide holiday gifts to students. 

Zel is not the only teacher who acknowledges that students deserve a day to themselves. Some states and cities have gone as far as passing laws that allow students excused absences for mental as well as physical reasons. After all, school stress can be the reason your child needs a mental health break in the first place. 

When burnout gets overwhelming for students, their first instinct is to stay home. But, imagine an institution where self-care comes to you? Now that’s a school I’d want to send my child to.

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