Local educator offers tips for holiday gifts

HEIGHTS — It may be questionable who is more overwhelmed — parents or their children — by all the commercials pushing the latest “in” gifts for the holidays. Kay Neff, head of Dearborn Heights Montessori Center and an educator with more than 40 years experience, is often approached by parents with questions about appropriate gift ideas — especially for younger children. She has offered the following tips:

Give the gift of time • Free time — to think, create, play read, relax

• Outdoor time — to run, climb, ride, explore

• Time for reading — Parents who read aloud to their children and talk about what is being read lay the foundation for a lifetime of reading and writing competence.

• Time for shared activities — Work together on a project or allow children to participate in adult tasks to build their skills, self-esteem and relationships.

• Time to give — Help children learn to do things for others. Establish a positive model of caring and sharing.

General categories that are almost always winners include:

• Construction toys such as blocks, Tinkertoys, Lego or Duplo.

• Props to be used alone or with blocks such as animals, people, vehicles, buildings, scenery, and signs

• Art supplies

• Games and puzzles

• Books, music CDs and book-CD combinations

• Items that encourage role playing, such as puppets, dress-up clothes, hats and other occupational items, dolls, child-sized furniture, kitchenware and others

• Play sets — wood trains, doll houses, farms, etc.