During the festive season, it's all too easy to be swept up in the seasonal whirlwind of present buying, menu planning and socialising. Many parents will have devoted precious hours to baking mince pies for the school Christmas fair too or taken time out to watch on proudly as their child took a bow as shepherd number three in the nativity.
With so much on our to-do lists, it can be difficult to find the time to talk to our children about the sentiments behind all the celebrations. In schools, the Christmas period offers a great opportunity to encourage children to think about those who may not be so fortunate and spread a little good cheer.
But as parents, what inspiration can we get from the seasonal activities going on in schools that might help us to keep the warmth and generosity of Christmas going once the festivities have come to an end?
Making a difference
Dame Bradbury's School in Saffron Walden (part of the Stephen Perse Foundation) made arrangements for their Year 2 pupils to sing carols at a local care home and the visit was a positive experience for everyone. The children's repertoire of traditional carols was an instant hit and they felt proud to have performed for the residents.
Another Christmas related project encouraged the children to help families further afield too, as they filled 80 shoeboxes to the brim with toys, hats, toiletries and games to send to families in Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine.
Christmas is the ideal time to encourage our children to focus on helping others but getting them involved in projects such as these can be a great way to keep the festive spirit alive and well long after the last present has been unwrapped.
Any time for giving
Your child may have been lucky enough to have an advent calendar containing chocolates or gifts this year, but St Christopher School in Letchworth Garden City put a creative twist on this popular Christmas tradition.
Students at the school were encouraged to design a reverse advent calendar, so rather than taking something out each day, they put something in. The children brought items of food during the month of December to add to the calendar and these were donated to a local food bank in time for Christmas.
You could easily tweak this idea at home into to a 'good deed every day' calendar for any month of the year and encourage your child to think about what they might collect that would help vulnerable members of their community. This would also reinforce the idea that giving gifts can be just as much fun as receiving them - any time of year.
There is plenty that we as parents can do working with our child's school, or as part of a broader community project, to encourage our children focus on helping others. From donating small items to a harvest day hamper for the elderly, to growing flowers in the garden of the local hospice or making tea for mums and dads in the neighbourhood, these activities help children to develop those essential skills and personal qualities that will serve them well in years to come.
So, let's keep spreading that Christmas feeling into and beyond 2017.
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