SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Let Children Help, and Learn, for the Holidays

This weekend we received a Christmas card from our niece and her family. I noticed that the envelope had been addressed by her young son. “What a great idea!” I thought.

I called my niece and asked her about this. She’s a full-time occupational therapist, and is also going to law school at night. She said, “I’m so busy that if the children didn’t help out, no one would have received cards this year!”  

This reminded me of the many ways parents can put young “helping hands” to productive and educational work this holiday season.

For example:

  • Counting out dishes and silverware to help set the holiday table.
  • Folding napkins into triangle or rectangle shapes (fine motor skills and shape recognition).
  • Writing out place cards, so everyone knows where to sit.
  • Cutting wrapping paper and ribbons.  Wrapping small presents (fine motor skills).
  • Reading holiday stories to younger siblings.
  • Estimating, measuring, and mixing ingredients for holiday baking (with adult supervision, of course!).
  • Counting out mini-marshmallows for equal amounts in hot chocolate cups.
  • Counting out 100 Cherrios, in sets of 10. Then, stringing them all together so your child has a strand of 100 Cheerios to drape outside, as a holiday treat for the winter birds.
  • If you have not already sent holiday cards, have your first or second grade student help you address, seal, and stamp them. 

Don’t forget to complete this holiday learning experience by having your child send brief thank-you notes to relatives and friends for gifts received. 

Holiday chores for children can be great fun, as well as educational. You might be amazed at how helpful young hands can be!


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