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The Most Valuable Gift – Time

The Most Valuable Gift – Time

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Sure you do. I just have to look in the mirror! Can you remember how we organized our time before we had cell phones, laptops and iPads? Actually, some of you were born after all of these devices became our life organizers! Being busy has become a status symbol. On top of that, your child will be away from Twin Parks Montessori Schools and your daily routines are about to change. For some, that also means the added stress of holidays thrown into the mixture. The decorations have been in the stores for months reminding us of all of the things we have to do to create the perfect holiday experiences for family and friends. It is hard to determine what is important. And yet it is important to share traditions that are your “childhood roots of adult happiness” (Hallowell)


Time during a break
How do you spend time during a school break?

What is expected to be an exciting visit with extended family and might include shopping and gift giving often has unexpected results. Our children often behave out of character and the adults wind up exhausted or suffering from migraines that can last from now until the children return back to school on January 3rd. Instead of trying to please everyone – including your children, now is the time to evaluate what worked last year and what you might consider changing. How can you maintain a schedule that is as close to normal as possible? How can you take care of yourself, your family and have fun?


A while ago I read an article written for Wired online, by Jonathan Liu, a self-described stay-at-home dad, Etch-a-Sketch artist, community agitator, board game geek and a voracious reader. Doesn’t he sound like a person you would like to get to know, one that would be fun at a party?   He sounds like a great Montessori Dad! Jonathan shared his insights about the 5 best toys for children knowing that many are of us are on a tight budget. These toys are time tested, and appeal to children within a wide range of ages.


1. A Stick, comes in various sizes, grows on trees, and yes – could poke an eye out

2. A Box, comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, can be converted into anything from a playhouse to robots, store or time machine (I’ve been watching Dr. Who!)

Fun with a box!
Two Montessori children with homemade space equipment. Hours of fun time!

3. String, comes in various textures and lengths, use to hang things, tie things together, Cat’s Cradle, heavier kinds for jumping, climbing, swinging. My son’s favorite was to create “power lines” from every attachable high and low surface in the living room that objects would traverse across and down.

BCP = Before Cell Phones!
This time is better than a cell phone!

4. Cardboard Tubes, free with paper towels, wrapping paper, or super sized from a carpet, used as a telescope, binoculars, whacker, although may not hold up to enthusiastic play so you need extras.

5. Dirt, been around a long time, you have to eat a peck of it before you die, great for digging, piling, burying things, mud pies, facials, etc. Playing in dirt actually helps our immune system! (conversation with Kim Van Atta about infectious diseases).

Joys with Mud!
I love the time to play in mud!

To Jonathan’s list I would like to add


6. Time, most precious, not always free, must be uninterrupted, in the moment, spent genuinely with children.

Children require both quantity and quality time with parents; time when we are not looking at the Internet, talking on the phone or watching TV (although with older children, watching shows together and discussing issues is a great way to stay in touch with one another). Time to stay at home in our PJs building forts with blankets over tables and using all the household’s pillows.   Time to cook, bake and be silly. Time to walk or ride bikes in the park with no destination in mind. Time to do crazy dress up and dance to oldies – yours and theirs. Time to sing together, play board games, play hide and seek, and create art projects.


Your time and your undivided attention. Everything else is just trimmings.

Baking time with Dad is fun!
A great way to spend time together during our school break!
“Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”

— Horace Mann
A walk together is all we need.
Time together is all we need!


Hallowell, E., 2002. The childhood roots of adult happiness: five steps to help kids create and sustain lifelong joy. New York: Ballantine.

Liu, J. 2011. The 5 best toys of all time. Available online:

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