'Tis the season of giving and at HMS, giving back to our community is a very important piece of the culture here. This year we have partnered with Round2Resources to help 15 families in the Hoboken/Jersey City area have a wonderful Christmas through fulfillment of their gift wish lists. We've had such an incredible turnout that a second round of families is now included! This has been a wonderful campaign for all, and especially our HMS children who are learning about those less fortunate and how they can make a difference by their kind gestures.
We've listed the ways we spread cheer and frame the giving season for our Montessori kids:
Finding a way for families to give back to the community. Acting on what others might need shifts the focus from what the children don't have. Speak aloud about gratitude and how lucky your family is to have fun stuff and toys in addition to all of the essentials. Consider donating a toy with your child to a charity or gathering items that are in good condition, no longer used toys, and books for a shelter. Maybe adopt a family in need over the holidays.
If you live in an area where there is a homeless population, you might work as a family to create care packages: small bags filled with food and other items that might be useful. They can be kept in your car to give to people as you meet them, or they can be dropped off at a local shelter or similar organization.
The holiday time for many children is about receiving gifts, and during this developmental stage in their life, it's a great opportunity to teach them the joy that also comes with sharing gifts. A child can learn that happiness can come from the experience of making someone else happy. Even just showing people that you're thinking of them, especially those they may be missing because of travel & health restrictions. Create a new tradition through video calls with distant relatives and friends so that they may feel included in your family holiday. Invite your child to participate in the wrapping and card making, and even the act of putting it in the mail.
Giving and receiving gifts can also be framed in a way that puts the focus on gratitude and generosity. Practice giving a gift to each other and what you may say. You might give it to your child and say" “I thought of you and wanted you to have this.” Then let your child give the gift to you. Respond with words like “I'm so touched that you thought of me”. The words focus on the gesture and intention rather than the actual gift itself.
You can also coach a child to use words when they are opening gifts, where they might feel pressure from the attention they receive. Practice with them how to look at the giver, say “thank you” and show appreciation.
Giving gifts for your child's development, ages 0-6
As thoughtful as a Montessori education is, so can the gifts we give our children during this critical development stage. Key areas at this age are:
Sense of order
Movement/ development of motor skills
Refinement of the Senses
Montessori toys are functional and constructive; they help children learn about the world through interaction and experimentation.
Here are some helpful tips on giving toys with Montessori in mind:
Toys made with natural materials like wood, cotton, metal, or even rocks. These toys are also generally safer for younger children who might be more inclined to “taste” their toys.
We recommend toys that don't move and make sounds on its own; it needs to be physically manipulated by a child. For example, a musical instrument or a jack-in-the-box.
Toys that are rooted in reality. Choose an animal toy your child might encounter at a farm or zoo over a dragon or unicorn toy.
Select toys that teach children one skill at a time. This allows children to focus on doing one task correctly.
Toys should be appropriately sized for children and serve a purpose. For instance, choosing a small wooden broom will help your child learn an important skill: sweeping.
Child-sized cleaning supplies
Sensory play scoopers/tongs
Giant nesting/stacking cubes
Wooden balance rocker
Scooters, bicycles, balance bikes
Playdough or cooking tools
Wooden pull toys
Lovevery subscription kits