Teaching the Art of Giving

How is it already December? Were we not just talking about Thanksgiving and admiring the leaves and beautiful autumn scenery here at MSK? Alas, it is the end of 2019 and the holiday season is upon us. I know this can be a time of anxiety and frustration as it seems that the countdown is on as soon as Halloween is over. Doesn’t it feel as if we have so much pressure to make each holiday season the best one ever? Let’s think about that for a second and sit with it. 

What makes a holiday epic? Is it the piles of gifts? Is it the perfect fresh-fallen snow that blankets our yards on a peaceful morning? Or is it the fresh treats you can smell wafting from the kitchen?

Sure, it can be those cinematic moments that make your holiday feel complete. But what really makes us and our families feel good?

Deep down, I think it is the goodness we feel in our hearts by creating precious moments for those we care about.

Now, imagine teaching your children from a young age what the gift of giving feels like. Maria Montessori stressed that modeling community service should play a big part in the development in a child. Essentially, a child needs to understand and appreciate their place in society by providing humble servitude to build character and develop good judgement. 

This holiday season, instead of making the days ahead all about what you are doing for the children, have them involved in the process and be part of what makes this the most wonderful time of the year. Over the seventeen years that MSK has been operating, I have seen how the act of giving and charitable initiatives brighten a student’s perspective about the world around them. 

This holiday season I encourage you to include your children in holiday preparations and in doing so, you will indirectly teach empathy, kindness and selflessness. After all, Dr. Maria Montessori believed that experiences in early childhood education was the master route to build a more compassionate humankind

Here are a few examples to have a Merry Montessori holiday season:

Gift Giving —it’s not only about what you get

This is a very important lesson that should be learned at a young age. Take your child to a store with you and allow them to choose something for a relative or sibling. It can be something a simple as a trinket from a dollar store. But let them choose it on their own, wrap it and feel the anticipation of the process. 

For the older children, encourage them to select a toy or gift and donate it to a local toy drive. The City of Vaughan is currently running a toy drive for the Chum Christmas Wish and you can drop off your donations up until December 8.  

Visit Relatives – take the time to spend the time 

It brings me so much joy when I see how happy an old friend or relative is when I pop in to visit. It doesn’t have to be a big production –just hang out and talk. Have a coffee or hot cocoa and catch up on the months or years that have passed. There is so much power in asking someone “how are you” and meaning it. This is especially important for those who may be more lonesome during the holidays. 

Volunteer Work – selflessness in action

No, I’m not saying that your 4-year-old should be serving meals to the homeless. But, there are activities where they can do something for the greater good and understand the positive impact they’re making. Simple things like actively participating in a food or drive (see item #1), donating gently used items to those in need, or helping out an elderly relative are all great examples. Here are some local examples that are age-appropriate to get involved this season: 

Pen Pals – sneaky journaling

I love the idea of writing a letter. Not an email or text – nothing electronic! Getting a piece of paper and using a pen to express ourselves is a dying art and there are so many benefits for our children to learn from it. Aside from practicing penmanship, writing a letter allows one to freely express their feelings and thoughts. As your children get older, have them write a letter to a family member or friend and watch their excitement as they get one in return! To get started, here are some journals that would work and are age appropriate: 

Family Time – no screens, get outside

Make precious memories with your child by being a model of positivity and adventure through enjoying activities together. Show your children how important family time is and the time spent together is greater than any gift they can receive. I know this sounds like a tricky task, but this will inspire them and strengthen your familial bonds even more. This doesn’t have to cost anything – take a walk outside, read books, go tobogganing or even bake something together.