2019 Gift Guideby WFP Admin added on 22 November 2019, Comments Off on 2019 Gift Guide , posted in Blog
By: Maggie Homer, Parent Educator
October came to a close and overnight all the stores were transformed into winter wonderlands with twinkly lights and wreaths galore! It reminded me that, for my family, the gift-giving season is around the corner…and I am always the person scrambling to think of a gift days before our event and rush ordering it on Amazon. So, this year I’m going to do my best to put some serious thought into the gifts I’m giving to our children.
I want to be more mindful in my gift-giving because the longer I’ve been a parent, the more I realize the power of the toys we bring into our home. As we learn in preschool, play is serious business with young children. Their work is their play. It is how they learn about themselves and the world around them. So, the toys we give to them are in fact the teaching tools with which we are encouraging our children to engage. This year, I don’t want to just get my children the latest fad toy that has one use and a storyline already scripted, but I want to give them gifts that will extend their imagination and challenge their skills.
But if I’m not going to get my daughter the latest Moana doll and my son Superman, what do I get them? Where do I start?
Here are some questions to ask yourself to guide your gift-giving during this season or any other when your family celebrates by giving gifts:
1. What do I do that my child enjoys or shows interest in?
In the book The Power of Play by David Elkind (which is in our parent library!), he discusses the purpose and value of toys. One purpose of a toy is to teach your child life skills. Throughout the day, parents go through the daily routine as their children observe. As the saying goes, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” It’s so true. Children are always watching, processing, and learning from what we do (or do not do). They desire to engage in those same activities. Children process life events through their dramatic play. Setting them up with environments that can simulate the real-world allows space for them to process what they are seeing the grown-ups around them do on a daily basis.
Some examples include:
- Shaving: Giving your child a shaving kit can be so fun. Include a hand mirror, play razors, shaving cream, and a towel. There are also pre-packaged kits. The more similar the items look to the real items, the better. This activity is good to do at bath time! Include a reminder that these are their shaving supplies and not to use mom’s or dad’s.
- Cooking: This is great because you can get items that your child can actually use when he helps you in the kitchen. Aprons, baker’s hat, child knives, bowls, mixing utensils, recipe book, oven mitt, and more.
- Caring for baby: Look for anatomically correct dolls, diapers, clothes, swaddles, bottles, wipes, and whatever else you use!
- Prop Boxes: Imaginative play is one of the primary ways that children develop executive function skills. You can create your own prop boxes with items needed to create a grocery store, shoe store, post office, restaurant, etc. Where are the places you typically go with your child? Simulate those places! I love to go to the coffee shop, so I’m going to make a coffee shop prop box with real to-go coffee cups, lids, straws, milk carton, coffee bag, coffee sleeves, napkins, apron, clip board, and more!
2. What do I want my child to be learning?
One night before bed, I was reading a book to my daughter. The book was about a cockroach who wanted to find a husband so she could be happy…so she cleaned her house, went out and bought perfume, found a husband and married him the next day. As I closed the book, I cringed at the thought of what she was learning. She was learning that she needed a partner to be happy, beauty would earn her that person, and it’s not important who the person is, just that there is one. I immediately gave this book away.
But how many things are present in our home that teach our children ideas that do not align with our family values?! I encourage you to think critically about each and every toy or book you decide to bring into your home and ask yourself, “What message is it sending?” If you want to take it a step further, ask that question with every toy or book you already own.
3. What can I do with my child?
There are so many wonderful events in the community that you can do with your child. There are shows, plays, ballets, museums, exhibits and more. What does your child show a special interest in? I have a friend whose children are really interested in dinosaurs, so for their family gift every year, they get tickets to go to the Jurassic Quest exhibit. This is awesome because the family is capitalizing on the interest of the children, engaging in a family activity and creating a tradition that extends learning and builds their family connection.
There are also toys that require building, mixing, digging, etc. that you can do together with your child. Instead of giving a gift and leaving your child to their own devices, think about how you can make the gift an activity that you can do together. Set aside a specific time to do it and verbalize to them that you are excited to spend this time together with them! Make the gift bigger than the item and create a special moment you can share with your child.
Mindful Gift Giving
Simply by being mindful and asking yourself these three questions before deciding on what to purchase will improve the quality of toys and books in your home this year. If you are interested in more ideas, please check out the 2018 Gift Guide that our WFP staff compiled last year. It has 15 different gift ideas that will surely spark your imagination as you have fun coming up with ideas that will light up your child’s world.
In case you’re stressing about gifts for your children, check out this article from The Wire titled, The 5 Best Toys of All Time. I think you’ll be surprised by the results. The best toys aren’t expensive, flashy, and loud. The best toys do less so your child has to do more.
And as a friendly reminder, if you shop on Amazon, please plug Woodinville Family Pre-School into your AmazonSmile so your shopping can benefit our amazing preschool. See the direct link on the home page of our preschool website, www.woodinvillefamilypreschool.org.