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There are many ways to experience Christmas, as many as families celebrate it. There are those who have a big party with family and friends, others have a small family reunion; some fill the fir tree with toys, while others bet on offering emotional gifts to the children ... But, this time, we stop to look Christmas from a Montessori point of view And, for this, we have spoken with Cristina Tébar, a promoter of the Montessori Method and mother of two children. With it we understand what this philosophy explains about the fantasy of Christmas and about the truth of Santa Claus and the Magi. Keep reading to know more!
At Christmas, everything seems magic and fantasy. However, is this conception suitable for younger children? As Cristina Tébar has told us, the pedagogue María Montessori explained that fantasy before the age of five or six is not necessary for children. In fact, it can even be counterproductive, since the brain of children at this age is not prepared to differentiate what is real from what is fictional.
At this age, what children they need is to absorb reality and all the information out there in the world, in real life. However, it is from the age of five or six that children begin to benefit from fantasy. From this age they are already prepared to differentiate between what is reality and what is fantasy.
What happens then with Christmas, the period of magic par excellence? The biggest dilemma for many families begins with the fantasy related to the existence of Santa Claus and the Magi. Many parents hesitateIf you tell the truth about these Christmas characters to your children and, therefore, end the fantasy, being aware of the risk that this will make them lose their illusion for the holidays. In addition, many parents feel that they are cheating their children when talking about Christmas gifts.
But, does knowing the truth about Santa Claus really detract from these dates? As Cristina Tébar points out, it doesn't have to be this way: 'Illusion has nothing to do with thinking that a man comes and goes into your house through the chimney to leave you gifts. Can have the illusion but understanding that what we celebrate is a party which has historical, cultural and also religious roots. That is, understand what the party consists of but without the need for there to be that deception or that fantasy that is often misunderstood. '
We tend to think that for children to have imagination we have to give them fantasy. But this is not the case since imagination is something that arises from the brain itself, while fantasy is something that another person with their own imagination has created and is telling you about it.
So? Do we have to tell the children the truth about Santa Claus and the Magi? Beyond the possible controversy that this topic may generate, if we agree with the conception of the Montessori method, how should we react if children ask us about its existence? Cristina Tébar, a promoter of the Montessori method, has told us how she did it with her children.
'Often my son, as the Christmas season approaches, he asks me different questions. (...) We had not told him that Santa Claus existed or that he did not existThat is to say, he saw that in the movies Santa Claus appears or that we were going to the mall and he saw a man dressed in red and with a beard. But, we had never told him that he was a man who comes and brings gifts. However, we have not hidden from him that we were the ones who bought the Christmas gifts. We did keep, hiding the gift or buying it without him noticing. '
'However, one year he did ask me directly if the Three Wise Men existed. I told him that they existed at one point, and I told him a little bit of the story at a reduced level because I was about four years old at the time. I explained that they existed at one time and now what we do is celebrate what they did. The following year, he asked me if Santa Claus was like the Three Wise Men, if he didn't exist. So I explained to him that he is a character that is based on another character, that is, a person who existed and now we celebrate what that person did. '
'But then he told me:' my friend Marcos says it does exist, because he saw it last year. So, I replied: 'I have never seen it, but perhaps it turns out that it does exist; maybe I'm thinking that it existed a long time ago and maybe it still exists; or there is someone else who does it now. '
The key is to encourage children to find their own answer if someone tells them something that doesn't convince them. We must make them understand that they do not have to believe what they are told, but that they must look for the answers themselves.
However, the popularizer adds: 'There are times when children seem to want to believe it, and who are you to tell them it doesn't exist. If you see that they really want to believe it, go ahead. '
To finish we asked Cristina Tébar which ones are the most important values that we must promote among children in this special time. Although education in values cannot be limited only to this time of year, this is a good time to work on some lessons.
Two of the most important values that this Montessori educator points out to us are solidarity and generosity. And it is that, in a moment of consumerism like Christmas is we must try to counteract that need to have more and more.
'Christmas is not that, Christmas is getting together with the family and, if you are religious, celebrating it in your own way. Despite the fact that we try to sell in advertising that you have to have many gifts and you have to have a very abundant dinner, in reality Christmas is not that. (...) We ask the children if they want us to participate in different solidarity campaigns. We also suggest bringing toys to this charity campaign for other children who cannot buy them. We try to make them see that solidarity is not only a Christmas thing, but it can be done throughout the year. '
For this reason, from our website we launch a Christmas reflection to finish: are you promoting values such as solidarity in your children? Merry Christmas to all!
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