Happy Advent, Day School parents!
This is my favorite time of year to SLOW DOWN and connect with children through music and play – yours and mine. Yes, I said “slow down”. It’s even more important during this busy season for children to feel secure in their routines, and special because of the rituals you create with them in everyday moments. Allow me to share some ideas from music class and my own family that will not only strengthen brain and family connections, but also help the PK3 and PK4 kiddos learn the music for our Christmas worship service coming up on Dec. 19th at 11am! NONE of these are things that cost money or involve getting into a holiday traffic jam. I believe in keeping it simple, and I promise that these are the moments that will matter most. All of these song videos are available on The Day School Youtube Page, AND on song-sheets sent home with PK3/ PK4 classes.
10 SIMPLE Family Rituals for Advent (plus one)
Sing the Story – Do you have a nativity set at home your children can play with to tell or
act out the story? Or act it out yourselves with the help of a few stuffed animal friends.
Start with “To Bethlehem they Go”, and your children will help you from there!
Sing a Christmas Blessing - try “O Come Let Us Adore Him” at meal-time. (Refrain for “O
Come All Ye Faithful”)
Light the Advent Candles at your table each night to help them understand Advent, the
time of waiting and getting ready...not for Santa, but for Jesus in our hearts and lives.
There are 4 weeks of waiting and getting ready for Christmas, each week a different theme:
Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love
HOPE: believing that good things can happen. Pray for people in despair at this time of year. Talk about how you can be bringers of hope in the world.
PEACE: hold hands and ask for peace in your home and in the world. Talk about how you can be peace-makers, draw a peace sign, and look for doves.
JOY: Sing “Joy to the World”, talk about what brings you joy, and how you share joy with others.
LOVE: Give thanks for the people that share love with you, draw hearts, and talk about how you share love with each other and all of creation.
CHRIST CANDLE: Finally, the white candle represents the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World.
Play Christmas “Name that Tune”– anywhere and everywhere – driving, waiting in line for Santa or at a restaurant, even potty-training! As in, “Can you name this Christmas song in just 3 notes?” And when they do it for you, it REALLY strengthens that internal control.
Counting/ Hiding Angels on your tree, around the house – To go along with our song “10 Little Angels”, the children have enjoyed seeing some of the angels I have brought.
Christmas Treasure Box game (“Who has baby Jesus?”) In my red gift box at school, I have some plastic nativity characters PLUS some other random “Christmas treasures” like a key (to the inn), a Christmas frog, a snowman, a reindeer, a pinecone. As I told the children, you can use ANYTHING! Let them gather some, and teach you the game. I love this game because it focuses children on their sense of touch, and it gets them using their solo voices on the first natural sol/mi interval for children to sing, as in “nanny nanny boo-boo”. (Even when my son was just 9 months old, he hummed this interval, pacifier in mouth, as we played this game with older children.)
Sing a Christmas Lullaby each night during Advent – “Away in a Manger”, “Silent Night”
Christmas Relaxation or “Christmas massage”. In class, I try to end with the lights out and just a couple minutes of quiet music time when the children can lie down, close their eyes, take some deep breaths, and just “re-set”. Light a candle at home, turn on the tree lights, share some loving touch (even with some peppermint lotion).
Draw a Christmas shape - For more loving touch, during our relaxation time in class, I’ve been drawing with my finger on their backs...a candy cane, a triangle tree, a square present, or a round wreath. And they like to guess, but they could also enjoy doing it to you – on backs or palms, another good “waiting in line” way to connect. (Even my 10- year-old daughter likes this on her tummy AND mine!)
10. Play “I wonder”- I wonder what it was like to sleep in a barn. I wonder what it smelled like...I wonder if Mary and Joseph were hungry...I wonder if anyone brought them food...I wonder if the moon was out that night in Bethlehem...I like to do this in class as a guided meditation during our relaxing time, always pausing to let them wonder silently. (But it’s okay to wonder aloud together, too!)
11. On the Night YOU were born – How does your child’s birth story compare with that of Baby Jesus? Was your special child born in Dallas or Bethlehem or somewhere else? Was it night-time with the stars out or daytime? Was it in a stable or a hospital or a car? Who were the people that came to see your gift from God? How did you share the GOOD NEWS of their birth?
E-mail me if you would like a family Christmas CD to guide you with some of these ideas.