It’s (almost) Winter Break! That glorious week plus reprieve from school for kids, and added entertaining responsibilities for parents. Teachers will tell you that kids will forget a few things over winter break, but there are easy ways to keep learning over winter break.
If you don’t do anything else over winter break, just read. Read magazines, books, Christmas cards, literally anything! Reading helps kids to practice literacy skills, imaginative thinking, and so many other skills.
To help pass the time when their noses aren’t in books, take the kids to your local library. Many public libraries have free camps, story times, craft times, or other events over winter break. Even if your branch doesn’t have a special event, just checking out books can be fun. Teach your kids how to find new non-fiction books or search the computer catalog. These are skills they will need for life!
Doing some holiday traveling? Make it a game! You can use maps, apps, license plates, or billboards to get the kids involved.
Use your smart phones or GPS system(s) to create a racing game. Give each child the destination (or sequential destinations). Using two different apps or devices, see which kid can: find the directions the fastest, figure out the best route, find a cool rest stop along the way, locate the closest bathroom stop, or make a historical connection. Older kids, or kids who need to practice map skills, can try their hands at this the old fashioned way: with actual road maps.
Playing the alphabet game with license plates or road signs is a fun way for younger kids (and even some older ones) to practice their ABCs and learn observation skills.
Another fun game is the license plate game. This game can go on as long as you want, and can be as complicated as you want. Essentially, try to find all 50 US state license plates during your travels. To go easy, allow the plates to be spotted anywhere, at any time. Want to challenge yourself? Make the game “live” only when traveling, or only when on an official road trip, or only when a particular group of people are in the car.
Take a Field Trip
Pick a local destination, like a museum or historic site. Then go there. Seriously, it is THAT simple. If you are in an urban area, your options are pretty much endless. For those who are more rural, think about taking a virtual field trip.
After your trip (or “trip), debrief. Ask the kids one thing they learned, or the best thing they saw, or what they might want to see again on another trip.
Whip it Up
Need to bake some cookies AND review math? Perfect! Involve your child in everything cooking related. Ask him to help you double or halve recipes, convert fractions, or add different ingredients together.
Cooking can also double as a chemistry lesson, since you can mix acids and bases (vinegar and baking soda) to talk about chemical reactions and how those reaction help bake things.
You can also work in some fine and gross motor skills with chopping, scooping, mixing, or kneading.
Yes, the other suggestions are super simple, but this is probably the easiest and most overlooked way to connect with kids ever. So here it is:
Put down the smartphone, tablet, or computer. Turn off the TV. Turn to your child and ask her a question about her day, her friends, her favorite band, whether she likes the sweater Grandma knitted her. Then follow that up with another questions until you have a conversation going.
With the advances in technology, we are communicating more frequently. Think: the texts to your spouse about needing more milk or checking on location. But we are communicating with less meaning. Think: letters your grandparents wrote during World War II or intense conversations about life. We can learn so much about a person just by talking.
And during a stressful time of year, your child (actually, anyone) might just need a friendly, in-person reminder that you care about him or her.
How will you be learning over your winter break?