2020 has been a unique and challenging year, but it has given us all the more reason to celebrate our community, practice gratitude, and show empathy to others. With a Montessori approach to the holiday season, families can teach children the true meaning of this magical time of year.
As a parent, you may even have questions like:
When do I tell my child the truth about Santa Claus?
How do I create a learning environment that is both festive and educational?
What types of family traditions can we practice this year and for many more to come?
With 2021 right around the corner, let’s celebrate a holiday season and ring in the New Year with Montessori-inspired activities!
Gratitude & Empathy During the Holidays
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to lose sight of what the holidays are truly all about: Gratitude.
Gratitude teaches young children how to become empathetic, peaceful individuals, and it is one of the foundational principles of Montessori education. Gratitude and empathy are principles we should teach our children year-round. Because the holidays center around family and giving to others, there is even more opportunity to practice gratitude and empathy at home.
Instead of writing Christmas gift lists, children can write out a list of things they are grateful to have. Parents can also encourage their children to reflect on the past year and write gratitude letters to friends, teachers, family members, and others in their community.
Though more common around Thanksgiving, a Thankful Tree is another way for children to practice gratitude. Instead of writing on cut-out leaves, children can write what they’re grateful for on cut-out snowflakes.
Thankful Trees are not reserved for the holidays, either. Going into the New Year, we will all continue to face the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By keeping our Thankful Trees going for months to come, our families can take time to appreciate one another and find joy in all we have.
Santa Claus vs. Reality: A Gentle Approach
Parents often wonder when it is an appropriate time to tell their children the truth about Santa Claus.
Young children are generally unable to decipher the difference between fantasy and reality. But when a child does develop the ability to tell what’s real from what’s imaginary, they have to discover ways to cope with these newfound truths.
Maria Montessori believed children develop distrust when led to believe in fantasy. In Montessori classrooms, we strive to separate reality from fantasy.
If, then the true basis of the imagination is reality, and its perception is related to exactness of observation, it is necessary to prepare children to perceive the things in their environment exactly, in order to secure for them the material required by the imagination.
‒ Maria Montessori
The Advanced Montessori Method: Spontaneous Activity in Education
Every family is different when it comes to Santa Claus and the traditions they celebrate during the holiday season. It’s ultimately up to parents to decide whether to tell their children about Santa Claus and other holiday fairytales.
As parents, we can teach our children the history of the tradition and how it evolved from the story of St. Nicholas. By doing so, we can teach our children that they don’t necessarily have to believe in the fantasy of Santa Claus to enjoy Christmas and that there are many other ways to celebrate this time of year.
Setting Intention for the New Year
With 2021 right around the corner, now is the time for parents to set intentions that promote their child’s independence and self-motivation.
Here are some ways you can help your child become more independent and self-motivated in the New Year:
- Create a morning and night routine.
- Set aside time for more decision-making activities.
- Encourage your child to problem solve on their own with limited guidance.
- Model optimism and patience when your child is struggling.
- Incorporate more playtime at home (less TV and electronics).
Acknowledging when our children do a good job is essential in building independent and self-motivated learners. However, we should veer away from general praise. Praise the specific characteristics your child demonstrates, describe to them what they’ve done, and inspire them to keep practicing independence and empathy.
Happy Holidays from Meadow Montessori!
It’s truly the most wonderful time of year to celebrate our families, show our gratitude, and look forward to the future. By celebrating a Montessori-inspired holiday season, we can help set the tone for our children going into the New Year.
From all of us at Meadow Montessori, we want to wish you a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!