Our answers might surprise you….
Between the ages of 0-6 years, as the child crosses through the first plane of development, it is the experience they seek. Not the stuff.
Our favourite and most important gift to give to a child is experience. Because, experience equals time.
A day at the beach with family is so much more to a child than a story book about the beach. Playing kitchen with plastic pots and pans isn’t even comparable to the love a child feels when baking with a family member.
Each positive experience goes far beyond simple fun. It builds lasting connections in the child’s development that build on each other over time. This in turn leads not only to a child building stronger Executive Functioning skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and self control, they also build strong positive attachments to the adults in their lives improving their feelings of self worth, self image and emotional resiliency.
Here is a list of some of our absolute favourite experiences to give a child:
- Go on a holiday, big or small that is just for them. Spoil them with late bedtimes, pillow fights, sightseeing and lots of together time
- Annual pass to the Zoo, Aquarium or other live animal focused centre
- Annual pass to local museums, art galleries, or music conservatories that offer child friendly programmes.
- Rec centre membership for endless swimming, skating & kids athletic programmes
- DIY Coupon book for kids that can include things like “baking cookies”, “movie and popcorn night” “outdoor adventure” etc.
If you are looking for a physical gift to give a Montessori child, here are some crucial things to keep in mind:
- Quality over quantity. One carefully selected thoughtful gift is worth more than an armful of absentmindedly thrown things into a shopping cart. Quality materials although more costly upfront will last for years in a Montessori home
- Nature materials over plastic whenever possible. Cotton, wood, steel, stone all feel, smell, taste and sound very different, but all plastic is the same. Children are refining their senses. They must have sensorial input. Giving natural materials also keeps little hands chemical free.
- Reality based over fantasy for under 6. Children crave real experience and under 6 are still laying the foundation of the neurological connections about their world. Real tools, lifelike animals and realistic people figures & dolls help them make sense of this world.
- Practical Life is always a great idea. The best gifts allow a child to be independent, self confident and take pride in contributing to their family life. They are also incredibly fun for a child. Small working vacuums, brooms, kitchen utensils and yard tools are always favourites.
Gift giving can sometimes get a little crazy. We all want to give them everything. But, before we go out and add to the stuff that’s piling up in the corners and across the floors of our homes, maybe we need to remember that adding to the stuff is not really what they want.
What they really want, more than anything in the world, is our time.