As the holidays descend upon us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the tasks that fill your to-do lists each day.
You might question whether it’s all worth it in the end, but rest assured that the extra work surrounding this time of year really does pay off, since these traditions have an extremely positive impact on a preschooler’s life.
Even if you’re not a super-scheduled family, chances are you tend to follow a general rhythm during your days. Holidays often feel special simply because they’re a break from the everyday routine.
Not only do holiday rituals instill a sense of wonder and excitement in the hearts of children during this busy season, but they nurture our relationships and establish a sense of belonging as well.
Additionally, children coming from homes where traditions are followed show higher academic achievement and stronger memory. That’s a bonus that I’m sure everyone would like for their child!
Listen or read more.
What other blessings do holiday traditions provide?
There are plenty, but here are five that have the greatest impact on preschoolers:
They create a sense of stability
Just like boundaries, traditions generate regularity and order. This helps children feel safe by lowering stress and anxiety as well as building emotional skills, which makes for happier kids.
They build unity
Usually everyone from Great-Uncle Ed to Toddling Tina is excited to join in with family traditions, which fosters closer family ties. How can you not feel closer as a family while standing around the piano belting out “Faaaaaaall on your knees” with your flesh and blood?
They develop identity
It’s easier to understand yourself when observed in the holiday-tradition mirror. Does your little one excel at present-wrapping, cookie-frosting, or adding the topper to the tree?
Having special roles encourages preschoolers to understand how they uniquely contribute to the family this time of year.
They help children connect to the past
So often history is lost on kids, but hearing Grandma and Grandpa tell the story of their first Christmas spent together as a married couple, when they had only a pitiful Charlie-Brown tree adorned with a smattering of ornaments from their childhoods – or of how they made the trek to their grandparents’ farm for the holidays, is sure to captivate young minds and give them a unique perspective on the past.
They provide opportunities to serve others
Helping others is always in-season, but it’s often much easier to do during this time of year. Whether it’s stuffing shoeboxes, singing at a nursing home or helping to ladle out Thanksgiving gravy at a nearby shelter, these holiday traditions provide ample opportunities for preschoolers to contribute and think of someone other than themselves.
Lest you fear that holiday traditions need to be complex, expensive or time-consuming, take a look at some of these ideas to try with your own family this year (be sure to click through to read more about each one):
- Shepherd on the Search – all the fun of Elf on the Shelf, but with a focus on looking forward to Jesus’s arrival. You can keep this simple or expand his search around the world to learn about different cultures at the same time. Be sure to check out my Syncopated Mama post today to learn about some new additions to the Shepherd on the Search collection this year!
- Celebrating the Season – our family’s Advent tradition that combines daily Bible readings with books to read, movies to watch, music to listen to and an activity to participate in. Do as little or as much as you’d like and grab some fun, free printables, too!
- Faith & Fabric’s version of a Jesse Tree – create your own tree based on your sewing comfort level. From fully-stitched felt creations to simple printed coloring pages, Jen offers an option that will be perfect for your family!
- Truth in Tinsel – another devotion-based Christmas countdown.
- Elf on Shelf – a popular tradition for the especially creative moms out there to surprise their children with each day.
- Blessing Buddies and Kindness Elves – elf alternatives that focus on daily random acts of kindness instead of mischief.
- Operation Christmas Child – fill a shoebox and bless a child somewhere out in the world this year!
- Angel Tree – choose an ornament off the tree and help meet the needs of little ones with parents in prison.
- Host a Christmas book cookie exchange – perfect for small homeschool groups to try right before break!
- Crafts – have some fun and spread some cheer by helping your preschooler make fun decorations for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Or, find fun craft ideas to go along with cute Christmas books like Bear Stays Up or Madeline’s Christmas.
- Yule School – take a break from your regular homeschooling routine and make Christmas the curriculum this season.
- Make homemade gifts – these are our favorite types of gifts to give and get each year. Try a framed reindeer photo footprint, Year of Fun gift box, customized activity calendar, fun photo magnets or these clever Love Jars – and if you need some fun stocking-stuffer ideas, check out this list, from A-Z! Even those independent-minded children can create neat gifts on their own with these ideas from Pam.
- Advent Morning Time – already use morning time as part of your homeschool day? Switch out your regular routine for these plans!
- Watch Christmas movies – I love Christmas movies so much, I’ve written about them twice. Check out my top five and those that round out my top ten to see if yours made the list.
- Other family holiday traditions – another top-five list of what we look forward to each year.
Does your family participate in special holiday traditions each year? Are there any of these ideas you’ve not heard of before, but would like to try? I’d love to hear! Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.