A year like 2020 makes the idea of a fresh start more appealing than ever. During this holiday season and the transition into 2021, we encourage Montessori Center School families not only to hope and plan together for a joyous new year, but to reflect with their children on the year that was.
End-of-year reflections for Montessori families involves taking time to reflect together as a family and set goals for the new year. This can be beneficial for both you and your child.
Time and Relationships
Strong shared family memories promote togetherness and a sense of belonging, the very qualities that form the foundation of a child’s healthy development. Take time to sit down with your child and look back over the photos and videos that have been accumulating on your phone over the past months. Use some of the suggestions in the list below to really connect with your child over shared memories. Memories of an unusual school year will certainly come up as well!
Time and the Developing Brain
Reflecting together at the new year not only brings family members closer together but also nurtures their children’s developing brains. As the preschooler’s sense of time develops, so do capacities such as emotional regulation, planning and adapting, and learning from reflection. These skills, which child psychologists group under the heading of “executive functioning,” enable children to concentrate, interact, and learn at their best.
Time for Mindfulness
Some families use the holiday downtime to declutter and clean out their homes, packing up outgrown clothes and toys to pass on to others. In this way, end-of-year reflections for Montessori families offer an opportunity to serve the community, as well as stay mindful of our own footprint on the planet.
Your preschooler can be not only enthusiastic but downright helpful when shown how to do a simple household task such as dust shelves, match socks, or sort blocks. He or she will also enjoy the challenge of carrying a large basket or bin. The clean, organized spaces that result from these activities signal the changeover to a new year in a practical and visible way.
Time for Hope
New Year’s reflections for families should focus on gratitude, growth, and belonging. Model these principles for your child by articulating what you would like to accomplish over the coming year: maybe speak better Spanish or learn to play golf. Don’t forget to set goals for the family as a whole. These don’t have to be major undertakings like a trip or a home improvement. Set a modest goal to walk in the park together or learn to sing and play a song together—once, once a month, or whatever time frame makes it doable and fun for your family.
End-of-Year Reflections for Children
- Compare photos of your child now and one year ago. Together, look for the differences: taller, different haircut, bigger feet?
- Other time-related visual aids include maps of any travels, cards, and letters received during the year, and marks on the child’s growth chart.
- Maybe you grew some plants this year, raised a puppy, or welcomed a new baby. Recall with your child how tiny the puppy or the seedling started out. Bring out one of the outfits the baby used to wear, and marvel at how much he or she has grown!
- If your family kept a physical calendar over the past year, browse back through it with your child and reminisce about the year’s happenings. In light of 2020’s cancelations, these may be sparser than in other years. But many special days remain—birthdays, Valentine’s Day, the first day of spring.
- A paper calendar is also a concrete tool for talking about periods of time, with its squares for days, rows for weeks, and pages for months. You and your child can count the days, weeks, or months that have passed since a remembered event happened.
- Talk about how long or short the time span feels since something happened. Together, explore words that describe different lengths of time. Does it seem like “ages”ago, or only “moments” ago? Play with time language. Did summer go by “in the blink of an eye” or “like molasses in January”?
- Tell stories about the previous year, and encourage your child to tell them, too. Ask open-ended, “interview”-style questions, such as “What was it like riding your new bike for the first time?” or “Do you remember how you felt that time you thought you lost your teddy bear? How about when you found it?”
- Start a nature calendar for the new year, noting happenings such as the first tulip blooms or the hummingbird that hovered to feed from the petunias on the front porch.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Montessori Center School! We look forward to seeing your children’s bright faces in January.
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