By Kimberly Vogel

Many struggling learners or students with special needs struggle with time, money, and egocentric behavior. Gift giving can easily be a time of educational and emotional opportunities for growth, and Christmas is the perfect time to put some of these tips into practice. It’s also a very busy time of the year, which makes intentionality important. But if we take the time to slow down and really focus on a few of these areas, there are a variety of lessons we can teach through gift giving

 

 

5 Lessons to Teach through Gift Giving

 

1. Plans and Budgets
There are so many ways to incorporate learning about money into gift giving. The first place to start is making a budget. For younger kids, you can talk about one gift, but for older children, they can set a budget for the whole holiday. You can extend this activity by setting up a savings plan for next year. If we spent $200 on our cousins this year, how much would we need to save all year to have enough money? How much would each gift cost? Will we be able to afford it and what can we change? If you go under budget, how can you use the money to bless someone else?

 

2. Math with Money
We are quickly becoming a cashless society. Our children need to know how to use cash. Plan ahead and take money to the store. Have your children buy gifts by counting out the correct change. You can further this activity by asking the children to calculate how much change they will receive. Play store at home and teach children how to count back money as a cashier. You can use fake money if needed. Many youths don’t know the valuable skill of counting back money, and it’s impressive to find a cashier that does know this skill!

 

3. Time Management
Time management is critical when shopping. How long will it take a gift to arrive at the destination? If I order a gift online, how long will it take to arrive? What if Amazon is even late? How far ahead do you need to plan? This doesn’t just apply to online shopping. Do you know how long it takes to walk the length of the mall? Can you estimate drive time, finding a parking spot, locating 7 gifts, waiting in line, and driving back home? Will you eat a meal while shopping or grab a cup of coffee? How do those factors affect your budget? There are a number of time management lessons that we can teach through gift giving.

 

4. Creative Skills
Giving gifts that don’t cost much – handmade gifts – provide many more lessons! New skills, budget for cooking or craft supplies, deciding what a person would like, are just a few things to be learned when creating gifts. Is it really cheaper if you are buying a lot of supplies? How much time will it take to make the items, and will you be able to finish?


5. Emotional Growth

I recently saw a meme go around Facebook about shopping for yourself while shopping for others. The struggle is real! How many times have you bought a gift for someone else and then one for yourself? Or changed your list? The struggle is real for our kids, too. Sometimes the struggle is that they want the gift for themselves and don’t understand why they can’t’ have it. Other kids struggle with wanting to buy for someone what they want instead of what the other person wants. I know Grandma wants a hat, but can it be pink because pink is my favorite color? Even if Grandma doesn’t ever wear pink? This is the perfect time to teach kids to think outwardly instead of egocentric thinking and behavior. Some kids naturally do think outwardly, but others need specific instructions and loving examples.

 

Let’s not get so busy this holiday season that we miss the opportunities teach through gift giving to others. The most important lessons are lessons of the heart, which means the most important lessons we teach all year could be those we teach during the holidays.

Looking for more holiday teaching ideas? Check out the SPED Homeschool Christmas and New Year Pinterest boards for great hands-on learning activities you can use all season long.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

In the previous article in this series on parenting anger, I mentioned this next step is the glue which helps hold the integrity and authority changes in your parenting in place. Here is why this step plays such an essential role in repairing any disconnect with your child when your parenting anger has caused division in the past.

Judgment by Reaction
Looking at our children through a lens that is not personally judgmental can be very difficult. We tend to have strong feelings for how much we desire to see our children succeed. These strong feelings can easily be read by a child through nonverbal communication. When our body language shows we are nervous, stressed, or even bothered when a child fails, our reaction passes along judgmental overtones. These reactions, if repeatedly observed by a child, will convey a parent’s inability to accept failure even without any verbal communication.

Most of the time when we struggle with accepting our child’s weaknesses, it stems from our own inability to accept our failures. If you struggle in this area, and in accepting yourself for being less than perfect, then the first thing you need to realize is that failure is an essential part of life which helps us, and our children grow and learn.

Embracing Failure
A while back I wrote an article called Failing to Learn where I stressed the importance of learning how to accept failure as part of the learning process so mistakes can be launching points for more learning instead of roadblocks of further exploration and understanding. With each mistake, we are given the opportunity to see how and why we failed. From there, we must choose to take what we learned in failing, and joyfully move forward in the hope that our next attempt will be better than our last based on what we learned in the last go-around.

When we can change our perspective about failure, the mechanics of accepting our children also becomes much easier. We are more prone to say “oops” when mistakes happen. And, our child’s limitations are given flight to become vehicles for greater discoveries.

When we start to make this shift towards accepting a child’s limitations and working on our responses to their failures, we also need to change our approach in how we redirect our child’s reaction to their failures. This is where the big change in your parenting needs to happen to glue all these elements together…and to prepare for the final steps in cultivating your child’s heart.

The Boxing Ring
When a child sees your reactions to their failures as an attack, you, in turn, will become the object for any out-lash in dealing with internal feelings of inadequacy. You essentially become your child’s punching bag because your reaction comes with a dual meaning. First, it conveys to your child you are safe because your love for them is what caused your reaction to their failure, but secondly, you are also an enemy because your reaction has placed you in their battle zone. Thus, instead of your child taking on the real issues he/she is facing, exposed through failure, your child makes the issue about your relationship.

If you were to view this scenario as a boxing ring, your child would be in the battle of life with you in the same ring. There are many things your child battles each day, but your job as a parent was never to be his opponent. Instead, you have been called to be a coach who can provide fighting strategies for all the important things he fights through in life.

Coaching to Success
By accepting your child’s fight as part of the learning process, and your role as the ever-vigilant coach through this training period in your child’s life, your goal will be to remove yourself from the ring by accepting your child and battles they are up against. Win or lose, you must show you are willing to stick it out while learning alongside as to what works and what doesn’t with failure, and success, leading to the winning strategies.

Each time your child tries to get you into the ring, you must make a dedicated effort to keep your feet out of the battle zone. And when needed, calling a “time-out” a break until your child is ready to receive training instead of taking you on in the ring. Over time this process will become easier, especially as your child starts to see the value of having you working with them to fight these struggles instead of being frustrated, embarrassed, or upset when they fail.

Continue to be Encouraged
In my next article, we are going to continue with the next step in the process of cultivating your child’s heart, which is forgiveness. Until then, make sure to keep fighting the good fight alongside your child and make sure you are getting the encouragement you need to keep pressing on. 

One way you can get exclusive resources and a monthly dose of encouragement in your inbox is by subscribing to the SPED Homeschool newsletter. Also, make sure to check out our podcast channel  or download one of the SPED Homeschool Conversations podcasts on iTunes or Google Play for lots of great content to encourage you in your family life, homeschooling, and special needs parenting.

 

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