The topic of Santa is a sticking point for many Montessori parents, frequently parents balk at the idea of not inviting Santa to be a part of their family’s Christmas traditions. And for good reason! For many adults Santa is a cherished childhood memory, a magical element that we are glad to pass on to our children.
Is Santa a part of Montessori?
The short answer is no. Santa has no place in a Montessori home.
Does that mean he can’t have a place in your home?
The reasons Montessori families do not partake of the Santa tradition is down to the fantasy element and the dishonesty it introduces into the parent-child relationship. Montessori encourages reality based imaginative play and honest, respectful communication.
However many families still include Santa in their family traditions, it’s a hugely personal choice and one that each family must make for themselves. There’s plenty of scope within a Montessori home and the BEST choice for a family is one that will bring you joyfully closer together.
Why we are including Santa in Our Montessori Home
We will be inviting Santa to our home at Christmas time. I do not believe Santa is a harmful tradition, nor do I believe that it will compromise the integrity of the rest of my relationship with my children.
From my experience and conversations I’ve overheard in the playground and classroom most children are aware from a young age of which elements of Christmas are fantastical. When it comes to Santa children willingly participate in what they know to be a fantasy and a game.
That said I’ve also overhead parents telling of extremes they’ve gone to when inviting Santa. That to me would be straying from a path that allows a gentle and organic belief to one that is fraudulent and creating dishonesty in the parent/child relationship. If I ever feel as though Fred and I are going to great lengths to be deceptive to prolong our children’s participation then we will of course scale back. Likewise if either of the children are becoming overly invested in the tradition then we will reconsider its place in our home.
Another reason we’ve chosen to allow it is because I think it’s kinder to allow my children to participate in the Santa tradition than to explain that the entire culture we live in is lying to children and that our family is different.
I also want to respect the decisions of the parents around me. Our cousins and playmates will all be visited by Santa and the truth would be a heavy burden for my children to carry! That said, you’d be surprised how little the details come up in conversation, most kids stick with a “What are you getting for Christmas?”
Finally I think the process of admitting they no longer want to welcome Santa is a significant and healthy step in a child’s maturity. It’s a nice way for them to signal their growing up and a good chance for parents to give their child space to grow up and show that they respect their emotional maturity. As a child I was terrified of breaking my parents hearts by saying I was done with the Santa thing, it was all rather drawn out and unhealthy. If nothing else Santa can provide a child led path to maturity.
Including Santa in a Montessori home
Alfie and Indi will learn that Santa is a really fun story, a game that we all play in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
We will not pretend that the man in the shopping centre wearing a polyester beard is actually a visitor from the North Pole.
We will not pretend that a plastic elf is spying on them and reporting back to Santa.
We will not pretend that Santa is magically assessing their behaviour and judging them 364 days of the year. Their gifts will not be conditional.
We will not pretend he arrives in a flying sleigh pulled by 8 flying reindeer.
If they ask question they will be told honest and truthful answers – and ‘Santa’ will continue to visit our home!
Santa and Montessori do not naturally support each other, however it is possible to play the Santa game in such a way that is respectful and truthful.