A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Holiday Shopping: What to Give and Why

Posted by Kristin Crawford on December 7, 2016

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We have all faced the question: Do I buy the latest item on the top of my child's list? Often the must-have toy is quickly discarded.  To shift away from this season's craze and give gifts that outlast the fads, here are a few insights which might help you evaluate what to put in the cart.

  • Children benefit from lots and lots of practice with fine motor play.  To help little fingers grow stronger so they can print, build, paint, and pour, consider toys and tools which let children cook, sew, and construct. Cook books, pie-making tools, board games, puzzles, watercolors, sewing kits, hammers, nails, clay, musical instruments, dolls with clothes, and blocks of all sizes – these toys help children develop stronger, more coordinated fingers.  

  • Growing minds flourish with open-ended materials and time. Children need time and opportunities to build up their thinking stamina. Materials that can be combined, connected, changed, and reconfigured, are rich with possibilities for building longer attention spans and critical thinking skills.
  • When a child has a passion or interest, they will naturally push themselves. They will make a project more challenging or a task more difficult. Passions are nourished by books on the subject, related materials, and real life experiences (museum memberships, vouchers for family field trips, a park pass).
  • Reflection increases connections to other ideas and information. Along with a stack of books on whatever topic your child loves, include journals and lots of different markers, pencils, pens.  
  • No holiday is ever complete without a pile of books – fiction, poetry, biographies, science-based books, books filled with photographs, how-to books. If they don’t already have a library card, include a voucher for a trip to the library to get their first card.
  • The gift that cannot be purchased or wrapped up is the gift of unencumbered time. Late mornings, quiet afternoons, and lazy days help children immerse themselves in the world within their heads.

Be open to your child's wish-list items that aren't faddish and momentary. My younger child, who loves animals of kinds, once declared that Santa could bring her a frog. When I questioned whether Santa could get a frog through the cold on the sleigh, I was informed, "He can and he will." And he did.

Happy shopping!


Learn More about Westtown

Topics: Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Kristin Crawford

Written by Kristin Crawford

Kristin Crawford, the Lower School Principal at Westtown School, has over 30 years experience in elementary education. In her 25 plus years of classroom teaching, she led Pre-K to 12th grade curricular review work, empowered children to restore a marsh and woodlands, initiated programs for local nursery school teachers and pushed to add Mandarin in a lower school. A fascination with how children think motivated her to develop a physics lab for young girls and a design lab at Westtown. With a Masters in Independent School Leadership from University of Pennsylvania, she moved into Admissions and then to divisional leadership. Kristin says "By far the favorite part of my job is the children. Children always have their own way of thinking, and we adults don't always get it. They make my laugh, they make me think and they make me want Lower School to be the best school for them. When school is over each day, I want to be outside. Actually, I often want to be outside during the day and have been known to take my phone outside to the sun and air to answer emails."