In case you have been under a rock and haven’t heard, the holidays are coming! Usually December comes and goes and before you know it, it’s New Years. Families get so busy preparing for events and celebrations that they barely have time to find true holiday cheer. In this article I will discuss some ways the grown-ups in a child’s life can help them get into the holiday spirit.
First, let’s start with things school counselors and teachers can do. Most teachers discuss the different holidays during a unit lesson. The following suggestions are meant to reinforce those lessons and also to help children take the spirit of the holiday beyond the walls of the classroom.
1. Provide a list of holiday activities in your local area to families. Many communities have a ton of activities, most of them free, that families are unaware of. For example, some public parks offer opportunities to ice skate or play hockey. There are also golf courses that allow families to go sledding on their hills. Some towns sponsor light shows and local theaters will put on holiday themed programs. Ask around and see what your community has to offer.
2. Sponsor a family in need. This is a good way to get children to focus on the giving aspect of the holiday season. Make a list of items you are collecting and put the children in charge of collecting supplies. Absolutely no door to door. They can make posters to place around school asking others to donate items. Another option is to have the children work to collect toys for an organization like Toys for Tots.
3. Form a Kinder-Crew. A Kinder-Crew consists of older children who volunteer in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. Plan a day for the Kinder-Crew to go to the Pre-K and/or Kindergarten classroom to work on a holiday craft like making a snow man or gingerbread house.
As always, children reap the most benefit when the home-school connection is strong. Below you will find some suggestions for how parents can get their children in the mood for the holidays. Feel free to share the information below with your families.
1. Have an arts and craft party. Families can transform their home into a winter wonderland or deck the halls with Christmas decorations. Get comfortable and settle in with some light snacks and holiday music. Let the family fun begin!
2. Read holiday stories. This is a good time to discuss with your children why you celebrate the holidays. Some fun Christmas inspired stories are The Elf on the Shelf, Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, The Night Before Christmas, and A Star in the Pasture. L’il Rabbit’s Kwanzaa and Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story capture the essence of Kwanzaa. Happy Hanukkah Corduroy and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins explain the celebration of Hanukkah quite well.
3. Watch holiday movies. There are tons of holiday classics to choose from. You can find a list of holiday movies here. Nothing says family togetherness like snuggling up and watching a good movie while eating popcorn.
4. Volunteer with your family. Many children nowadays are inundated with all kinds of toys and gadgets. They are surprised to know that not every child owns a 3DS or an IPad. The holiday season is a great time to teach children the importance of giving. Plan a trip with the family to volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. There are also volunteer opportunities at food banks, the Salvation Army, and local churches.
5. Enjoy a light show. There are so many creative people who enjoy decorating their homes with lights. There’s always one block or one home in the neighborhood that is famous for the light show they put on. Load the kids up in the car and drive them through town and let them marvel in the wonder of it all.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can definitely take a toll on you if you don’t plan ahead. However, there are many ways to make the holidays fun and memorable. Hopefully the ideas above help. Please feel free to leave any suggestions that you might have. Happy Holidays!