Our countdown to Christmas has begun! With only a few short weeks left, we’re all scrambling to get those last-minute gifts prepared for our little ones. With that being said, keep in mind there are several nonmaterial gifts that can be given; gifts that can last a lifetime.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he will succeed.” (Dr. Montessori)
Giving your child the opportunity to develop their independence is probably the best gift you can give them. Allowing them to groom themselves, clean up their own work, choose their outfit for the day, make their own bed, or make their own choices (even if that means experiencing bad consequences), will help improve their independence, self esteem, and self-discipline….in order for a child to be free, they need to experience independence.
2) A Love of Learning
Investing in your child’s education by encouraging an internal love of learning, is an incredible gift to give your child! As parents we can help foster a genuine love of learning in our children by reading to them on a daily basis, create lessons and activities that apply to real life situations (for instance, going for a walk outside and encouraging new language by discussing objects found on the ground, leafs, twigs, grass, etc.), include your children in baking and reading new recipes in the kitchen, or visit your local library.
These supersede any materialistic gift you can give. Sharing memories with your family can last a life-time. Simple family outings, such as going to the park, or taking a walk, enjoying the outdoors by camping, etc., can mean so much to a young child. Make a scrapbook of these memories so that they can look back at the photos over the years.
4) The Ability to Correct their Own Mistakes
Allow your child to learn the consequences and outcomes of their choices, even if the results are slightly unfavorable. As a Montessori parent, it’s important to let your child learn how to correct their own mistakes before we intervene. Children learn quickly and naturally from their mistakes. Allowing them to correct their own mistakes helps them further improve their social and emotional skills. If we help them every time they fall, spill water, or clean up messes for them, they will soon become dependent on us to correct all their mistakes, never knowing how to grow from these lesson opportunities.
Allowing your child to fully develop their concentration is such an incredible and precious gift to give. Fostering an environment that caters to your child’s needs, and providing works that help develop your child’s concentration is such an important part of being a Montessori parent. Learn to recognize these spontaneous periods of concentration and try not to interrupt them if at all possible. Rid your child’s home learning environment of unnecessary technological devices (ipads, iphones, etc.), minimize television time, and maintain a steady, healthy, daily routine. Present works on your child’s shelf that aren’t too over-stimulating but neutral in color, texture and purpose. Concentration in young children is such a fragile thing, it is up to us as adults to foster an environment that nurtures their need for this developmental skill. Concentration helps promote normalization, self-discipline, and several other characteristics that help build a strong learning foundation for the rest of their lives.
6) Physical Exercise
Get out and play! A physically active child is a happy child! Spend the day at the park, take the dog for a walk, go hiking, pick apples or fruit from a local orchard…even visiting your local farmers market requires physical exercise by walking through the variety of venders’ booths, not to mention it’s a great educational opportunity to learn about different nutritional foods! Especially this time of year when the weather is cold, bundling up and getting outside to play is extremely important!