Gift-Giving that Promotes Independence in Montessori (and ALL) Children
We all know that Montessori children are taught independence at a very young age, and we know all too well that we adults learn patience well, too! When you set out to do your holiday shopping this year, you may have one or more Montessori children on your list. We know that not all families enjoy receiving a plethora of toys for their little ones. We kept that in mind when writing our gift giving guide this year. We wanted our ideas to allow the child to engage in practical life skills while still having fun. We hope you will enjoy our ideas!
7 Gift Ideas that Promote Independence in Young Children
1 – Child-Sized Dresser or Clothing Rack
Do you have the struggle of getting your young ones dressed in the morning? Allow them have access to their own child-sized closet to get themselves ready each morning. As we know in Montessori, we love the component of “control of error” so if you aren’t feeling the stripes and polka dot outfit with mismatched socks look your child is rocking, try putting out only the one outfit you would like for them to wear that day. Problem solved!
2 – Learning Stool
This has always been a Montessori mom’s favorite gift. The learning stool allows the child to be at countertop level to have access to many of the same things adults can access. It is highly recommended to always supervise your child while they are using their learning stool. Embrace preparing a meal together or have them help you wash the dishes. The list is endless and they will feel more independent with each use!
3 – Child Sized Dining Set (Plate, Bowl, Cup and Utensils)
As adults, we would hate to be faced with eating off of a 6’ dessert plate for each meal right? Well imagine how your child would feel (or does feel) eating off an adult size dinner plate larger than their head! This Christmas, purchase your child utensils and a place setting that is just their size. Not only does it help you portion the food for your little one, but it allows their small hands to serve themselves more effectively with less mess for you to clean up!
4 – Child Sized Gardening Set
Children love to dig and get dirty. Allow them to garden alongside you with their own sized tools. Caring for the environment is another Montessori concept that links to gardening at home. This is not only helping them with their grasping of the tools, but it also allows them to learn about different plants and caring for them as well.
5 – Child Sized Cleaning Set
You may be amazed at how much your child loves to clean. Have you ever asked them to join you? Well now you can! Give them their own special cleaning set and your house may be extra sparkly soon.
6 – Dress up Clothes: Waitress, Pilot and Vet
You may already be saying “No, not another Elsa costume,” but kids love dressing up. From princesses to police men, they love to pretend and be creative. How many times has your little one asked “can you help me put this on?” Make a new rule that if they want to play dress up they need to learn how to get into the outfit. Try and purchase dress up clothes with buttons, zippers and snaps that allow the child to learn these skills.
7 – A Piggy Bank
What a great way to teach your child to save their money. It would be important to have a lesson first that the money that goes in the jar stays in the jar or you may have a broken jar one day. Teaching children to be responsible with their money at a young age will only help them in the future. Last year we also share the idea of the Moonjar which allows the child to save, spend, and share. It is still one of our favorites and can be purchased here.
No matter the age, children are continually learning how to become more independent each day. Even older children can use a boost now and then. This next guide gives you ideas for the child who may need some extra organization or responsibilities in their life.
8 Gift Ideas that Promote Independence in Older Children 10 and up
1 – Money or Gift Card to purchase their own gift, make them add tax and do the math before heading to the checkout with their special item. You could even help them open a bank account.
Make the days of sneaking money out of the piggy bank gone for good. Take your child to the bank to open up their very own bank account and give them money towards their first deposit.
If they must spend that Christmas cash or gift card allow them to do so as they please. However, if you get to the check out and they are one dollar and six cents short, say nothing. That’s right, say nothing and do nothing. Allow for them to make a decision and adjust their purchase accordingly. Support them in this process but do not give them the money. One day you won’t be there to bail them out!
2 – Planner
Get your child a planner this year to help them stay organized. Children in Montessori’s third plane of development are in dire need of this!
3 – Cookbook with Utensils
Do you have children that love to cook? Get them a simple cookbook for them to prepare meals for family dinners or special desserts. Adding in tools to the gift makes it extra special!
4 – Set of Thank You Cards
Gratitude is slipping through the cracks. I adore this gift! Not only can children make their own thank you cards they are learning how to be thankful all at the same time. As a former Montessori teacher, thank you cards were always available on our practical life shelf. This was often a go-to activity for many students. Acts of kindness increased as well. Teaching your children to be thankful is setting them up for success!
5 – A Watch
“Can you tell me which hand is the minute hand and which one is the hour hand?” Unfortunately telling time on an analog clock has become an archaic idea. With all of the digital technology at our fingertips, children no longer have to understand telling time with analog clocks. Giving them an analog watch for Christmas will help them with their time-telling skills and your child’s teacher will thank you!
6 – Pet Care Kit – A Goldfish
Feeling ambitious? Try a Dwarf Frog Kit here or plan to give your child the ultimate furry friend this year.
We know that everyone wants a puppy for Christmas but in reality that it just not always possible. If a pet is on your child’s wish list this season, start with something small. Give them literature to read about how to take care of the pet and make it 100% their responsibility.
Do not secretly replace the goldfish if it dies. I repeat, do not secretly replace the goldfish if it dies. Teach your child that they need to care for an animal and prove they are responsible enough for another pet that may have increased responsibilities. You will be amazed at how independent they become taking care of THEIR pet.
7 – Hair Grooming Tools (Hair Brush, Hair Elastics and Hair Gel)
Helping your child get ready in the morning is most likely part of your daily routine, but it doesn’t need to be. Teach them how to brush their own hair and put it up or even for the boys teach them the proper amount of product (we all know they love hair gel) and how to style their own hair. We have found that the “Wet Brush” is amazing for children with long hair that agonize over getting the tangles out. We promise there won’t be any more tears or struggles!
8 – Sheets
Ok, call me crazy but I wanted to add laundry detergent to this one as well. But honestly, making the bed and doing laundry are two chores that children are completely capable of doing themselves. Teach them how and cross them off your “adult” chore list for good.