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Helping Your Child Understand the Meaning of Christmas

It happens every year. Even before the last slice of turkey is eaten, or the final pumpkin pie tin is tossed children everywhere eagerly anticipate Christmas. “What will I get this year?” “What is Santa going to bring me?” and “How many gifts will I find under the tree?” are all common questions. From a day spent giving thanks for the things they have, they slip into an attitude of greed for the things they do not have. As parents, it is our job to help our children understand that Christmas time is not about getting, it is about giving.

To help them gain a better perspective, it may be necessary to show them how truly blessed they are. Kids will only know what they see. Being so young, they have a limited view on life. They only see their little world. That world may have the influence of abundance, either because their parents have excess, or their parents live sacrificially so the kids can have an abundance. When our kids are blessed in this way, they need to understand that others do not have the same opportunities.

A few ways to teach your kids about this life lesson are as follows:

Donate to a Charity

This can be done through monetary giving or a donation of time. If monetary, it should accompany a visit to the place you are donating to. Even if it is a website, allow your child to view what the organization stands for and whom the funds go to help. If it is time, then find an organization that works in your local community. A soup kitchen, clothing donation station, or a meal on wheels type charity is ideal. Somewhere your child can meet those they are giving to.

When children get to meet those less fortunate, they can learn to appreciate the things they do have. And in turn, want to give to those who do not have. As they see us treat others equally and not look down on them it provides them with a good example for them to follow. Children will imitate what they see. What will they see in you? Will they see you with a giving Christmas spirit, or giving into society’s portrayal of getting all that you can?

Go to Church

If you do not regularly attend church, this is one area that I highly recommend for you and your family. Your children get inundated with influences all week at school. And with all the silly laws and rules in place, any religious teaching is strictly forbidden. There is too much all-acceptance in today’s society. Anything goes. Morals are set aside to usher in tolerance and acceptance of attitudes and beliefs that go against a firm moral standard. The church is a place to affirm a moral standard. A child will be taught that there is a standard to live by.

In society, Christmas is driven by the dollar. Television and radio tell you that your love for someone will determine how much you spend on them. Christmas has lost its true meaning. Even the word Christmas is not accepted anymore. It has gotten so bad that you cannot even say Christmas without someone getting offended. One misplaced sign can get a company sued very quickly. Terms like Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas are what is accepted. It is not surprising that a child without a church-going base may have never heard the true story of Christmas. For them, it can be a season of gifts, or of families getting together, never about the birth of Jesus.

Talk to Your Child

Remember, you are your child’s first teacher. Most of the things that they will learn in life, will be through observation. They see they do. So, what do they see you do? Are you giving into the retail hype and treating Christmas as “gimme that”? Or do they see you giving sacrificially to those less fortunate? Kids need to understand that life is not about the things that we can get. It is not about achievements and accolades. What status you attain means nothing if what was done does not benefit others; if it is not done with a spirit of compassion.

If a child has been taught that Christmas is about getting gifts, decorations, and Santa Claus, then it’s time to sit down and have a heart to heart. Use the methods above to show them all the things we do have is a blessing, not an entitlement. Teach them that a good heart gives. Admonish them over selfishness and putting others down. Most of all, teach them the real reason for Christmas. Teach them about Jesus, the manager, Mary and Joseph, the star. Show them that Jesus’ birth had a plan. God’s plan and his love for us.

Final Thoughts

If you do not teach your children, someone else will. If you want your child to know the truth, then you must assume the responsibility and be the one to guide them.

It is okay to want things; it is okay to receive Christmas gifts. It’s when the getting outweighs the giving that our children can get confused. Use the resources that are in front of you to help them understand. Volunteering is one of the great eye-openers to the less fortunate. TV and movies are either over dramatic or don’t portray the reality of being in need. Reading about it only gives the knowledge that it exists. Seeing it, putting a face on it, is the only real way to grasp what is out there.

When a child can see the true need for themselves and have an explanation given to them about what they are seeing, they can gain a better perspective on what their life is like; how blessed they truly are. Then they can grow up with an appreciation for what they do have, and not complain about the things that they do not. It will also instill a desire to give to those in need; even at a sacrifice to them. Just as the Lord has done for each of us.

 

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Keeping Your Child Reading Through the Summer Months

Just because it is Summertime, it does not mean that it is time to put the books away and have a three-month break from learning. Education is a year-round activity. Studies have shown that children can lose some of what they learned during the summer months. This is why the first few weeks of school is always review. This is taxing on teachers who want to get to the new stuff. It is also partially why many schools are choosing to have year-round schooling; to help children continue learning and not forget things from previous years.

During the summer, with family vacations, camps, and overall education burnout, it can become easy to neglect reading. Unless you have an established reading plan already in place, chances are the likelihood your child will pick up a book during the summer are slim to none. This is where we as parents need to be involved. But we don’t have to do it alone. There are many summer programs that your child can become engaged in that will encourage them in their reading and help keep their minds sharp through August.

Talk to Your Child’s Teacher

The first person to contact should be your child’s teacher. In fact, most of the time in the final weeks of school, your child may bring home a flyer for different reading recommendations that are available to you. From a guide to prepare your child for the next grade to a list of books or programs, the resources are available to give your child the ability to continue learning.

Most of the suggestions will be for websites that have information about Summer Reading programs. Many of these will be at a location like a library; your school may even have a program they offer. Online courses are also available. Some do charge a fee, however, if you shop around you can find one that will be in your price range.

Visit the Local Library

There is no better place to learn about reading programs than your local library. They host a variety of different events to boost your child’s interest in reading through the summer. They have days dedicated to certain topics, authors, or genres. Each grade level will have a different day, or time, that they will meet. Once there, they will engage in activities like learning games, story time, and of course lots of reading. If your child is lucky, they could even meet the author of a favorite children’s book.

Libraries have worked hard to make these events more like playtime than school time. Our local library has a weekly event that in addition to promoting reading, they will have a theme for that week. One week will be about Science, another week they will be about music, and yet another about magic and mystery. And that is just three weeks. Check out your library’s website for the options they have for your little one.

Develop Something on Your Own

If either of those is not available to you, you could develop something on your own. This is where a Book Fair can help. You can prepare for the summer months by stocking up on books for your child to read. These won’t be like textbooks; they chose these books themselves. You could also visit a library or bookstore to obtain a stash of books. Either way, the point is to keep your child engaged.

Another good option would be to purchase an eReader. This makes reading available with just the click of a button. If you have a library card then you can digitally check out books, then you would have an endless supply of material from which to choose. This will be beneficial if your child starts a book and doesn’t like it. It is much easier than going back to a physical library or store to make a return.

Those lists that come home at the end of the year could provide you with some ideas as well. Our child’s school sent us a flyer about reading programs, but in addition, that flier told us what to expect for our soon-to-be fourth grader. They tell us that fourth grade is somewhat of a transition year. They will be introduced to textbooks. In a couple of years, she will be in Jr. High and will have to draw on what she will learn next year. So, this summer we can begin to help her get prepared for what she will experience this fall.

Final Thoughts

I know, just because your kids get a Summer doesn’t mean that you receive the same three-month break. You still have to go to work, come home and cook dinner, and still have the mounds of laundry that need to be done. Come June, parents often take a breath and put school away with the backpacks until they get the Wal-Mart ad in August promoting Back-to-School sales. Only then do we start to look at what the next year holds.

Your child doesn’t have to go through the valleys of forgetting what happened last year. Reading keeps your child’s mind sharp. It helps them to grow. It will put them in a better position going into the next year than a child who spent their summer in front of the TV or with a controller in their hands.

It’s all about developing a hunger to read in them. This begins young, but when that hunger is established, it will be fun to read for your young reader. Katie DiCamillo, author of such books as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux is quoted, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” Once that gift is acknowledged you will find yourself telling your son or daughter that it’s time to put the book down and get some sleep.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss