This time of the year is ripe with "best of 2015" lists or countdowns.... countdowns until break, countdowns until the New Year, countdowns until ...... (fill in the blank)
It is hard not to get swept away in all of this looking forward to something else, to the next "thing". It is daily practice to stop and be present here and now. Children need us as the adults to be the consistency for them, in the midst of new people and new situations during this festive season. Mention any changes in your daily schedule that morning to bring an awareness to the change. Think about how your child processes time- it is a very abstract concept, so I wouldn't recommend telling them days in advance, it may cause more stress not knowing when this new thing will happen. As much as possible, keep routines in place (even during this time!) to help your child's inner sense of order. Order and routine helps children feel safe, they know what and who to expect. We found that we needed to wait to decorate our Christmas tree until our son was used to the tree in the room, and the new layout of the furniture, then he was able to participate in decorating. We trusted him with ornaments and involved him in the process of decorating our tree. He adds homemade ornaments made from beads and paper chains to our tree, and takes it upon himself every morning to turn on the lights on our tree. His smile of pride that he is helping our family in his way says it all.
We know his limits and are able to read the situation- do meltdowns happen? Of course! That is a part of children's healthy development- it is our role as adults to respond with support and consistency. We know that he needs to experience working through a difficult situation and understanding that he isn't going to get everything he wants, when he wants it. We also know that taking him to a place with lots of new people/new experiences may be overstimulating, so we are working on finding that balance. We want him to enjoy all that this season has to offer, but we also don't want him to feel the rush and stress of it. That means that sometimes we need to say "no" to other things.
Keep an eye here for suggestions for simple, fun activities that you and your child can experience together while they are on their winter break.
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Beth is a mom first and foremost. She is also a trained Montessori teacher who is passionate about making the lofty ideals of the Montessori philosophy more real and manageable for families.