Did you know that your child’s holiday wish is pretty much the same as yours?
Your wish for the holidays with your preschooler is to have a joyous celebration with the people who matter most to you. Your child’s greatest desire is, and always has been, to belong.
Belonging means feeling like a valued contributor. It means spending time with you, partaking in the customs and traditions that your family finds meaningful. Those traditions, in turn, embody the values you want to pass on to your child.
4 Mindsets to Adopt for Meaningful Holidays with Your Preschooler
(1) Less Is More
A key principle in our Montessori Center School environments is that “less is more.” Maria Montessori discovered that young children responded best when she offered them fewer materials. Now researchers are rediscovering that too many toys can actually hinder a child’s ability to play.
“Less is more” can make the holidays with preschoolers more enjoyable and less overwhelming for family members of all ages. Focus on quality, not quantity, with gifts designed to engage your child actively. Consider practical life objects your child can use for care of self and environment, or materials for artistic, musical, or dramatic expression.
If you already have too much, perhaps donate some unused items. Involve your child in the spirit of giving to someone who has less. Create a family holiday tradition of contributing time to your community—maybe by picking up litter in the park or taking a donation to the local food bank.
(2) Keep It Simple
Holidays with young children can become stressful because of upset routines. A “keep it simple” mindset helps you set realistic expectations. Know and respect your child’s limits. Try not to plan more than one challenging activity—a long shopping trip or a formal dinner—per day.
With school not in session, it’s easy to get lax about bedtimes. But preschool-age children are in a sensitive period for order, so they thrive on structure. It’s best for your child if you don’t neglect the usual rhythms and rituals. Build in time every day for big physical activities and outdoor play. Your reward will be a well-rested, cheerful child.
(3) Let Me Help!
Your child’s strong desire to belong makes her want to participate in everything you do. With a Montessori mindset, you can include her in activities both routine and special:
- Dusting shelves and tabletops, just like she does at Montessori Center School
- Holding down the wrapping paper on a gift while you apply the tape
- Helping choose and pack her own things for a holiday trip
Look for opportunities throughout the holidays with your preschooler for teaching, learning, and connecting in everything you do together:
Call attention to the letters on the flour bag when you’re baking cookies. Sound out some words together.
Point out the fractions on the measuring cup. Let your child internalize what half and a quarter really look and feel like.
(4) Stop and Smell …
… and touch and taste and talk! You know your child is a sensory explorer. Respond with your own Montessori mindset of exploration. Notice the rich aromas, sounds, and textures that abound during the holidays with your preschooler. Stop and smell the nutmeg and cinnamon as you assemble a dessert together. Feel the difference between the long, soft pine needles and the short, stiff ones.
Talk with your child about these sensory explorations. Give her the words to describe what she is experiencing. And tell the stories behind the season’s special objects and foods. What do these treasured artifacts, rituals, and traditions mean to your family?
The Gift of Your Presence
As you celebrate the holidays with your preschooler, remember that what your child wants most is simply to be with you. Give the gift of your presence, and accept the precious gift that only your young child can give you—a daily renewal of your sense of wonder.