Zoning out during the long winter break can cause students to lose skills, but there are many ways for parents to help them stay in the rhythm of school. Maintain a reasonable bedtime and give kids plenty of entertainment options, including family time and fun activities that reinforce classroom skills.
Between reading a recipe, following directions, measuring and mixing ingredients, and timing the cooking process, cooking provides plenty of learning opportunities for kids of different ages. You can tailor this activity to emphasize certain skills. For example, let your grade-schooler use different measuring cups to see how smaller portions combine to form a whole. Older students can explore the science behind pivotal ingredients such as yeast or baking soda.
2. Reading Time
Holiday guests, celebrations, and sheer excitement can push vacation bedtime much later than usual. Try not to stray too far from the normal bedtime so kids don’t have to endure a harsh transition period when school resumes in January. Use evening reading time as a low-key, educational activity to help them settle in for the night.
3. Nature or Weather Journal
Use a small notebook as a nature or weather journal. Kids can record their personal observations along with illustrations or photos to document the day. Later, they can add the official high and low temperatures from the weather report. This activity helps little ones understand seasons and the concept of weather. Older kids can learn about local wildlife and how it responds to colder weather.
4. Postcards or Thank-You Notes
Help kids exercise their etiquette and writing skills by writing postcards or thank-you notes. If you travel during the holidays, let them send postcards with messages describing their travel destinations. Use thank-you notes to help kids express gratitude. If they sent a wish list to Santa, they should send a follow-up thank-you note to let the big guy know they appreciate their gifts.
Additional free time during the holiday break leaves kids looking for new ways to fill their days. Offer fun games that reinforce school habits such as taking turns, concentrating, and following directions. UNO works well for kids of different ages. If members of your brood need some solo entertainment time, educational computer games are a great alternative. TV network websites such as Nickjr.com and Pbskids.org offer free games featuring popular characters. Games such as RollerCoaster Tycoon combine impressive game play with brain-flexing challenges.