Saturday, December 7, 2013

Involving Young Children in Decorating for the Holidays

The more I try to incorporate Montessori ideas into my home, the more impressed I am with how much my children are capable of learning and doing, and how happy it makes them to have the power and ability to do things for themselves.

Things take more time, but if I plan for it, I usually have plenty of time.  I would rather do fewer things and let my children participate more fully in each of those things, and that realization has shaped the way we're decorating for Christmas.  We're decorating a little at a time, and enjoying the process even more than the results.

As we decorate for Christmas I try to regularly ask myself, what can my toddler and preschooler help with?

Maybe help is the wrong word, because "help" implies that, well, it's going to be helpful.  Since my children are so young, a better question might be "how can my children participate?"  How can I get them involved, help them feel ownership, give them the pleasure of participating in our holiday traditions?

When I think of it that way, it reminds me that they're not here to help me decorate, I'm here to help them participate.  It's my job as a parent to find ways for them to feel helpful and included.  I'm sowing the seeds for children who will be legitimately helpful, independent, and capable later on.  More importantly, I'm helping them have enormous fun and make beautiful Christmas memories NOW!

Greg and I love doing things with Will and Andrew as a family, and that means finding as many things as we can that little hands can do.  Greg is a natural at this... I often have to think about it.  I'm really happy when I do :)

Luckily, there's a lot!  Here are some examples.  Happy decorating!

What can your little one's hands do?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tip: Use a Coat Rack to Help Young Children Decorate Holiday Wreaths

Not how I would have spaced the ornaments,
but it'll make me smile every time I come home :)
It's December, and since we celebrate the Christmas tradition, that means it's time to decorate!  I love having the kids help, because they have so much fun being involved.

Greg ordered a wreath from the boy scouts, and it recently arrived ready for us to decorate! 

I used a low hanging hook on our coat rack as a stable place to hang the wreath where Will and Andrew could reach it.

I pulled out a small number of decorations, kept it simple, and was sure to supervise while they hung the breakable ornaments on the branches.  They would hook them where they wanted them, and then I made sure each one was secure.

Afterwards, Will eagerly helped to vacuum up all the pine needles while I hung the wreath on the front door.

If you're feeling less brave, or don't have time to clean up a potential mess, you could always use less breakable decorations.  Outgrown mittens on strings make adorable wreath decorations!

I figured that while I had time to supervise them, it would be good to give them the chance to handle delicate decorations.  If one fell and broke, we could talk about how some things are breakable, and what to do if something breaks.  (Stay really still until a grown-up can pick you up so you don't cut your hand or foot, put shoes on before you vacuum, etc.)  I didn't have to have that conversation because they were so careful, but I knew I had time to deal with the mess if it happened, and it's always good to teach kids how to handle breakable things.

Wreaths are such a great thing for kids to decorate, because they're smaller projects than a tree, and with the help of a coat rack they can reach the whole thing! 

He loves helping SO MUCH!