During the upcoming holiday break, learning can easily slump. But it doesn’t have to! Here are six ways to incorporate learning into the holidays so your child goes back to school refreshed and ready to study.
1. Read for fun
Reading, as you know, develops vocabulary, critical-thinking skills, fluency, and even empathy. Take your child to the library or the local bookstore at the beginning of the break so he has an array of choices throughout the holidays (or books to take along during travel). Look for books you can read aloud together—you read to him, he reads to you, or a combination. Expose your child to a variety of books—comic books, graphic novels, magazines, poetry, etc. Audiobooks are also great for fluency and are excellent choices if the reading level is just a bit above your child’s.
2. Play together
Gather your family members for a game night that will be both fun and educational—whether your kids realize it or not. Choose games that involve strategy or have to do with literacy, counting, or guessing. Think chess, Scrabble, charades, or various iterations of them. Games like Jenga are great for motor skills. Have your child be the scorekeeper, a role that involves counting and calculating. Most games are educational in some way, and they will provide bonding time for the family. You could even encourage your child to create her own board game!
3. Get cooking
Welcome your child into the kitchen. You might start at the very beginning, such as having him plan a grocery list and helping you buy and calculate costs at the store. Baking is a great (and delicious) way to enjoy learning how to work with measurements, and it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. This direction might even take you and your child into the chemistry of cooking (perhaps try experimenting with different recipes of the same item and see what happens!) as well as conversations about other cultures, cuisines, and lifestyles.
4. Create DIY projects
Encourage your child toward DIY projects, which inspire creativity and problem-solving skills. There are some ready-made kits, which teach children to make their own soap or birdhouse, for example. Check out your local craft store for ideas and supplies, or do new activities you could try together. Turn these projects into holiday gifts or decorations. Teach your child a skill you know yourself, like knitting or crocheting. Finally, encourage your child in building and construction activities. You could use materials you already have at home, such as cardboard boxes, paper-towel rolls, toothpicks, and Popsicle sticks.
5. Perform writing and scrapbooking activities
To make writing fun, expose your child to different genres she may not experience at school, such as the aforementioned comic books, graphic novels, or poems. Have your child respond to books she reads by writing. She can keep a journal in which she writes whatever she wants. She might want to create lists in her journal, chronicle daily events or special occasions, write letters to her future self, or keep a dream journal. Suggest that she write holiday cards or letters to a pen pal or relative. You could also make this more tactile and visual by encouraging your child to scrapbook and collage with pictures and illustrations.
6. Take field trips with the family
Plan some outside trips—perhaps to a museum, local landmark, or historical site. Hiking would be great if the weather allows! Ask your child questions; you could even create a “treasure hunt” of the place if you like. Some museums provide optional, educational activities for children as well. If you’re planning on traveling during the break, involve your child in planning the schedule, reading maps, looking up places to go, figuring out transportation, and researching the historical background of the city or town.
Regardless of whether you stay home or go away for the holidays, your child can sustain his learning throughout the break. Capitalize on the time to encourage your child’s passions. Also consider asking your child’s teacher if he or she has any tips or suggestions!
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.