Sunday, December 09, 2007

Children Receive 5 Gifts

[2007]I got this from one of my kids' preschool teachers several years ago. There is no author credited; I have a call in to the preschool to see if she knows who wrote it. 
[2012] Thanks to Lisa Joy for providing this info. She says it was from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, printed on Sunday, December 24th, 1989 and credited to Pat Gardner.

It's Christmas Eve and time for the weeks of hectic preparation to come to an end. Within hours, the magic will begin to unfold for our children and, vicariously through them, for us.
Just as we remember those wonderful Christmas eves and mornings long ago, our children will look back on these days. How will they remember them? What are you giving your children this year?
I know one family of modest means that makes a great effort to celebrate Christmas in the best way possible. Their kids always find five gifts under the tree. And more than that, the gifts are always accompanied by a parent. Here's how they do it.
The children always receive a gift to hug and love.
Sometimes it's a doll or maybe a stuffed animal. Every Christmas each child has something to care for, to carry along and finally, at night, to share a bed, secrets and dreams.
The wise parents know that the children will learn to care for others by practicing on dolls and stuffed animals. Mom and Dad demonstrate rocking the stuffed bear and carefully wiping the doll's nose. They talk about being gentle and giving care.
More importantly, they treat their children tenderly. They make a special effort at this busy time of year to provide a little more lap time, more frequent hugs and all of the physical care and attention their young children need.
The children in this family always receive something to read.
The parents know that to give them books is to give them wings.
The little ones get books and the big ones get books. Books aren't foreign to any member of this family. They are treasures. And more than that, they become a daily connection between parent and child.
The wise parents know that the best way to raise a reader is to read to a child, and so they do. They read to the younger ones. They share laughter. And they read to the older ones. They share stories. They take the time to listen patiently to their beginning readers. They share discoveries. Through books, these parents explore worlds within their home and beyond their front door with all of their children.
The children receive toys and games.
These parents are concerned about each child's developmental progress. They look at the child's skills and find fun ways to enhance their present capabilities and encourage further development. For a grasping baby, a crib gym; for a beginning walker, a push toy; for a preschooler, a shape and color sorter; for a beginning reader, a game of sequence or strategy.
The parents know that play is the work of childhood. They understand that to meet a child at his or her level of accomplishment is to encourage success in play. Success stimulates motivation and interest in a challenge. So the parents judge their toy and game choices carefully. Not too easy, not too hard. Then they do the most important thing. They play with their children.
The children see that learning is a joy; that it's fun to challenge one's self; that play can be a social activity; that it's OK to win and also to lose; and that Mom and Dad whole-heartedly enjoy and approve of play.
The children in this family always receive a gift of activity.
From a simple ball or jump-rope to a basketball hoop or pair of ice skates, they always have one gift that encourages action.
The parents know that those children who, by nature, are very active may need to be channeled into acceptable and appropriate activities. And they know that those children who, by nature, are very passive may need to be encouraged to move with purpose.But their message to their children is the same: physical activity is important and good.
These parents make their message clear by joining their children in physical play. They skate and play catch. They're on the floor with their crawlers and walk hand-in-hand with their toddlers. They get bumped and bruised and shout and laugh. They go sledding and they go bowling. And many times in the next few days when resting on the couch may sound much more inviting, these parents will give their kids one more gift. They'll play with them.
The children always receive a gift of artistic expression.
They might find crayons or paints or markers in their stockings. It might be a gift of clay this year or rubber ink stamps or scissors and glue. The materials change but the objective remains the same: create with joy.
These wise parents aren't terribly concerned about the mess of finger paints. They're more concerned about the exposure to unique sensations. They want their children to use their imaginations. They want their children to approach life in a "hands on" fashion. And they want them to express themselves through their artistic activities in a way that exceeds their vocabularies.
Other than brief demonstrations, the parents do not "teach" art to their children. They let them experience it. They praise the process of creating and show appreciation for the product of their imaginations.
The children in this family do not wake Christmas morning to an unending pile of presents. They always receive five gifts.
The gifts they receive are not those heavily advertised and are usually not the hottest items in the toy stores. Rather, these gifts are reflections of their parents' good judgment, values and priorities.
These gifts are not "Go play with your toys" gifts. They're the kind that keep members of the family involved with each other.
The children in this family receive five gifts. And each is accompanied by a parent.

1 comment:

  1. Lisa Joy10:07 PM

    I just received a copy of this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, printed on Sunday, December 24th, 1989 and credited to Pat Gardner. It's a fantastic article!