It’s getting closer to Christmas Day, so postbags across the country are stuffed full of hopeful letters to Santa.
Mark O’Donnell, the new headmaster of St Martin’s Ampleforth, the prep school at Ampleforth College, has over 200 excited children eagerly awaiting a fun-filled festive season and has provided some tips on how to manage children’s excitement in a way which puts the true meaning back into the holiday season.
Mark says: “For parents, channeling young children’s Christmas excitement can be both fun and challenging. Finding a balance between the ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’ messages are key to a fulfilling festive season.”
1. Outside and Festive – Playing in the great outdoors is a fantastic way to wear out excited kids. Ampleforth is set in two thousand acres of scenic Yorkshire countryside so whether it’s building a snowman, sledging or an old fashioned country ramble, busy days mean children sleep well.
2. Nativity – Popular film “Love, Actually” showed there’s great diversity in nativity plays and this is true across the country. Helping build excitement for your child’s school nativity is a great way to encourage creativity and confidence and their first experience on stage is memorable for both the parent and child.
3. Church Service – Being a Benedictine school, we have lots of traditional church services around the festive season, but also a big focus on working the earth and being part of nature which is reflected in our Gardening Club where the children are able to collect holly and pine cones to make Christmas wreaths.
4. School-made creations – Here at St. Martin’s we have a 20ft Christmas tree with all the decorations made by the children at the school. It’s a great way to keep the children entertained and get them involved in some creative Christmas crafting.
5. Story Time – Reading an extract from a child’s favourite book can be one way to keep a youngster’s attention, as can reading a child’s version of Luke chapter 2, the nativity story. Also, older children can keep younger children occupied by playing board games or other activities.
St Martin’s Ampleforth is the Preparatory School for Ampleforth College and welcomes boys and girls as day or full-boarding students from the ages of seven to 13, with a nursery and pre-prep for children aged three to six. http://www.stmartins.ampleforth.org.uk)
The school is located in a Grade I listed castle within the 2,000-acre estate of Ampleforth Abbey.
Set in one of North Yorkshire’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ampleforth is the UK’s largest and most forward-looking Benedictine community.
Steered by a moral ‘Compass for Life’ nurtured by the Benedictine ethos, children are taught at co-educational Prep school St Martin’s Ampleforth (3-13) and Ampleforth College (13-18). Ampleforth also runs a permanent private hall at Oxford University, St Benet's Hall.
Ampleforth Abbey visitor centre welcomed its 10,000 visitor in June 2012 and the Benedictine monastery at Ampleforth is a centre for spirituality, education, pastoral work and evangelisation.
Ampleforth was established in 1802 when the monks returned to England following a 200-year exile in France following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. The famous Abbey orchard now has some 2,000 trees and more than 40 varieties of apples, some of which are used to make the famous Ampleforth Abbey Cider and Cider Brandy.
The Abbey also started selling Ampleforth Abbey Beer in 2012. Derived from a 17th century recipe in the Belgian Trappist style, the beer is brewed in partnership with local brewery Little Valley Brewery.