In 2020 our milestones and celebrations have looked different. The significance of our rituals has sometimes felt diminished in the midst of all that we have been experiencing.  As we celebrate Advent and approach the Christmas season this year, it is perhaps more important than ever to embrace the joy of Christmas and share with children the meaning and spirit of the season.

Advent, which means coming, is a time of preparation in the Catholic tradition, as we anticipate the birth of Jesus.  It is also a time to share with children the Christmas story and help them to develop their understanding of the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

This Advent and Christmas children in our kindergarten, outside school hours care and long day care services are exploring the meaning and spirit of the season in many ways. We have shared some of these below and we hope these ideas help you to engage with your children as they discover the joy of this miraculous Christmas season.

A nativity scene

Set up a pre-made nativity scene in your home or make a nativity scene together with your child and discuss the story of Christ’s birth. A little hint; don’t place baby Jesus in the stable just yet, instead do this together on Christmas day after Jesus had been born.

A Jesse tree

A Jesse tree is traditionally covered with ornaments that represent people and stories from the bible. At Christmas, it can be turned in a symbol of gratitude, using a tabletop Christmas tree or a few bare branches arranged in a pot.  Each day take a moment with your child to add a symbol that represents something for which they are grateful – a photograph for family, a flower for nature, or a small toy for time to play.

An Advent calendar

An Advent calendar is used to count down the days of Advent in anticipation for Christmas. Each day as you open a new window you reveal an image or part of the nativity story. You can use this to prompt discussions about the Christmas season with your family.

An Advent wreath

You might like to set up an Advent wreath in your home and each week as you light the candle of the week discuss as a family what it symbolises in your lives. The wreath of evergreen foliage holds four candles, three purple and one pink. There is also a white candle placed in the centre. The first week’s candle represents hope, the second peace, the third joy and the fourth love. Finally, on Christmas Day the fifth and central white candle is lit. As you light the candle you might wish to read a story with your children that represents that week’s theme.

Christmas stories

Not only could you read the nativity story with your child but there are many other stories exploring the spirit of Christmas you might like to share as well. These include ‘The Giving Tree’, by Shel Silverstein and ‘My Little Gifts: Growing Hearts,’ by Jo Witek and Christine Riussey. There also many videos explaining the story of Christmas, this is one of my favourites: