The holidays are here! This is a wonderful, exciting time of year —especially if you have small children. Little children allow us to see the magic of the holiday season. Everything is new: the lights, the music, the decorations. Their excitement is contagious. Everything is a discovery!
As parents, we’re making discoveries too. We’re discovering new aspects of our children’s personalities every day. As they grow and change, we’ll see them differentiate between items and exhibit preferences —the favorite toy, the only blanket they’ll fall asleep with. It’s a fascinating process – and one we can use to guide our answers when people ask us for gift suggestions for our children.
Make Gift Giving Easy
There are many reasons why people ask parents and CT early learning center staff and teachers to give them gift suggestions. Friends and family members who don’t have kids in their life often have no idea what might be an appropriate Christmas or Hanukkah gift might be. They need some guidance! People also ask for suggestions to avoid giving duplicate gifts, to help them streamline their holiday shopping process, and to find out if there’s something the family really wants or needs. Easy to follow gift suggestions are welcome.
Make things simple by suggesting types or categories of items that your child would enjoy, rather than specific items. Early childhood education experts recommend that children are exposed to a wide range of positive learning experiences throughout the day, both at their CT early learning center as well as at home.
Here are some types of toys and gifts that provide positive learning experiences for your child:
Children thrive and grow when they can enjoy a wide range of experiences with their family and friends. Tickets to a children’s museum, an afternoon spent ice skating, a family outing to see all the holiday lights followed up with cookies and hot chocolate: all of these gifts appeal because they involve spending time with the people we love. If there’s somewhere you know your child loves to go or especially wants to do, from feeding the ducks at the park to seeing a specific movie, consider asking for an outing as a gift.
Creative toys engage the imagination, encourage self-expression, and are lots of fun. Age appropriate art materials, craft supplies, building toys such as blocks and Legos™ help develop fine motor skills while fostering creativity. Also a great idea? Toys that encourage pretending, such as dress up clothing, play kitchens, toy workshops, dolls and action figures. These encourage the imagination.
Active toys are those that get your child up and moving. All kinds of age appropriate sports equipment fits in this category: balls, tossing games, jump ropes and climbing toys are all great gift ideas. Look for games that incorporate elements of physical play, such as pre-schooler board games that direct players to get up and dance! Interactive video games also encourage movement – and many, many little ones want to participate after they see older siblings (or parents!) play the Wii or xBox.
Early childhood education experts agree: children need books! From soft, cloth baby books to classic tales to be read aloud at bedtime, there’s a book for every child at every age. While it’s likely that story time is incorporated in the daily activities at their CT early learning center, it’s important to continue this activity at home. Reading builds strong families, and there’s absolutely no such thing as too much story time!