Spending time or money at Christmas?

garden play

garden play

Make time to hang out

Post by Robert Gillman, GHSS School Co-ordinator, 2013

It is staggering to me to think that, according to the Commonwealth Bank, Australians will spend about $18 billion in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. That is an average of $430 for every man, woman and child living here.

The level of spending is not so much the dubious issue, but the concentration. A common lament around Christmas time is that presents are received that don’t fit the needs or desires of the recipient.

Overindulgence and complaints about the struggle to ‘eat up all that turkey’ are also commonplace. Manic spending during a short window of time can result in hasty shopping decisions, money wasted and premature landfill.

Children’s toys can be problematic. Many parents report the need to ‘cull’. Toys are often marketed, packaged and priced as if highly valuable, yet fail to sustain a child’s engagement for any length of time.

Kindergarten teachers experience, everyday, how children adapt simple things they have at hand to suit the way they are playing right at that minute. This means that the most sophisticated of toys, which can change into five different shapes with the twist of a lever, are never a match for the imaginative power of a four year old. The four year old might want the toy to be an army one minute, a horse the next and finally a boat as the story in his or her mind develops.

There is another way of bringing positive experiences to young children. Instead of play equipment that has a fashion cycle, it is also important to remember that some things are timeless. Golden Hill Steiner School has begun to publish tips and plans for keeping children of all ages entertained. The emphasis is to use items that are easy to find and not expensive. Sometimes the plans call for an investment of time rather than money but this is, in modern psychology, a recommended way to have “quality time” with one’s children – or friends. Psychologists are very clear that quality time is far more beneficial for child development – or friendship – than expensive toys.

This project is a work in progress and we welcome suggestions from readers as well as instructions for making your favourite Christmas activity possible. Please send any contributions to office@goldenhill.wa.edu.au

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