Surviving Holidays- KHOU Interview

Routines are very important for young children. In Montessori we say that children under 6 are in their sensitive period for order and repetition, which means they have an inherent need for routines.

During the holidays, school is out, you may be traveling, relatives might be in town, there are holiday parties to attend – basically there is an overall disruption of your child’s routine.

So what can you do to help your child?

If you are traveling, involve your child as much as possible before your trip

  • Have a calendar where your child can mark down the days until they visit grandma
  • If this is the first time flying, talk about the airplane, show pictures of the plane and the airport
  • If you’re going on a road trip, let them look at the map and show your child where you plan to stop, count the stops along the way
  • Let your child pick out a special backpack for the trip, to carry his favorite things – a special blanket, stuffed toys or books.

It is very important that your child have something comforting and familiar when traveling. Preparing your child beforehand will create a sense of excitement rather than anxiety

 But what about once you’re on the plane or in the car?

Parents always worry their child will be the loudest on the plane. Be sure to have some quiet, but engaging, activities on hand. Bring a coloring book and crayons, playdough to keep hands busy. A deck of cards is always fun, with preschoolers can play a simple version of go fish or war. I remember my brother and I playing cards all the time. Even when we went on a family trip as adults he brought a deck of cards.

It sounds silly, but post-it notes are a great thing to have. There is a lot you can do with those colorful little squares. Your child can make a small book, stick them on the tray to decorate it, you can play games like tic-tac-toe or dots. You can even make your own memory game by drawing pictures or writing letters on the back.

Make sure to keep some of the play items a surprise! Your child can open it on the plane and it will be new and exciting.  Also, don’t take everything out at once. Just as we do in our classrooms, let your child choose an item to play with. After she is done, let her put it away before choosing something new. This will keep them from getting overwhelmed or bored.

If you’re taking a road trip, get a car seat tray, so your child can play and draw comfortably. This is also a wonderful time to have a family sing-along, listen to books on tape, or play games like “I spy”. I can remember my brother and I playing car games for hours. We did the license plate game and the categories game where one person picks a category and you keep naming items until someone gets stumped.

Just think of what you liked as a child, get creative. We always think that we needed the newest, coolest, shiniest thing to keep a child entertained, but a 5 year old now is not much different from a 5 year old 30 years ago. Think about how many generations have played with legos, or even blocks. In our older classrooms we have computers, but still the children gravitate toward building things with their hands.

Whether you’re on a plane on in a car, this is a great opportunity to bond with your child.

Most importantly, remember that hunger can make even the chirpiest of us a little cranky.

  • Keep some healthy snacks handy – dry fruit, nuts, cheese sticks, carrots sticks, unsweetened cheerios
  • Sugary or processed snacks can cause a quick spike in blood sugar, but later leave your child feeling sluggish, tired and fussy.
  • Instead of juice or soda, give your child water. Keeping your child hydrated, is important, especially on a plane.

With just a little planning and creativity, you can ensure your holidays will be filled with joy and peace!

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