Fostering Independence and Wonder During the Holiday Season: Ways to Involve Children in Holiday Preparations and Celebrations
The holidays can be a very exciting, yet busy and stressful time for many families. It is a time to celebrate with loved ones and create cherished memories. Unfortunately, sometimes we can allow the hustle and bustle of all of the events distract us from the true meaning of the season. Finding ways to involve children in the holiday preparation and celebration can help us remember the true meaning of the season, keeping Montessori at the heart of the holidays.
Dr. Montessori believed in honoring a child’s independence, encouraging them to become capable, confident members of their home, school, and wider communities. Providing children with opportunities to be involved during the holidays allows them to make meaningful contributions as they immerse themselves in purposeful activities that help them delight in the wonder of the season.
Here are a few ways you can involve children in holiday preparations and celebrations:
- Preparing the meal. Whether it’s measuring ingredients, washing fruits and vegetables, chopping, pouring, or stirring, allowing your child to be involved in the process of meal preparation helps them feel like a valuable contributing member.
- Setting the table. This activity speaks to a child’s need for movement and order. Providing a placemat with outlines marked for the proper placement of dishware and cutlery helps a child feel confident in their abilities.
- Cleaning the house to prepare for guests. Many families do a deep cleaning of their home in preparation for the arrival of guests. Involve your children in this process! Not only do they enjoy the sense of order that activities such as window washing, dusting, and sweeping bring, these tasks will help them develop concentration and coordination as well.
- Decorating the home. Invite your child to participate in festive decorating traditions in your home such as trimming the tree, hanging the stockings, and lighting the menorah. Even very young children can participate in these activities if they are adapted with their needs in mind. Arts and crafts activities are another way to involve children in decorating the home for the holidays.
- Grace and Courtesies. The holidays are times when families give thanks for each other and all that they have, sharing their appreciation and love. Invite children to express their gratitude. Model for children what it looks like to use manners when greeting guests and engaging in holiday celebrations and encourage them to demonstrate these same pleasantries.
- Selecting, purchasing (or making), and wrapping gifts. Involve children in the entire gift giving process. Encourage them to think about who they may want to purchase or make a gift for and what that person might like. Some older children may even choose to use money they have personally earned. The final step of gift giving, wrapping, is a great Practical Life exercise that helps children develop fine motor skills, concentration, coordination, and a sense of order.
- Making holiday cards. Many families send cards to friends and family members to wish them a special holiday season. Involve your child in this process. Let them choose the cards and sign their own name. Perhaps they even want to make some cards themselves, drawing pictures and writing well wishes to their loved ones.
- Donating to those in need. Help your child understand the true meaning of the season. Ask them to help you gather gently used clothes or toys they no longer play with to donate to charity. It can be a very special experience to involve them in the entire process, allowing them to tag along when these items are donated and seeing who they will benefit.
It is very easy to get caught up in the busyness of the holiday season and to forget to slow down to consider how to involve children to ensure it is a meaningful, cherished time for them as well. Keeping Montessori at the heart of the holidays allows children to become involved in holiday preparations and celebrations, fostering a sense of independence and wonder in children that will last a lifetime!
About the Author
Heather White, EdS, is a Montessori Coach & Consultant, a Montessori teacher trainer, and a blog writer and content creator. Formerly, she was a Montessori teacher, Lower Elementary coordinator, associate head of school, and a Montessori nanny/in-home teacher. She also has experience as a School Psychologist intern. She is AMS credentialed (Early Childhood, Elementary I) and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.