Every holiday season we are given the opportunity to embrace more quality time at home. Some parents worry that time away from school might derail their child's learning progress. While you might be tempted to bring out the workbooks and learning apps, most teachers feel strongly about students resting and not doing work that mirrors that of a classroom during breaks. Children need to recharge and reset. However, that does not mean you can't offer plenty of engaging, off-screen, and academically stimulating activities at home. Here are 10 ways you can keep your child learning during the holidays!
1. Menu Math
Did you know your kitchen can be one of the most hands-on math classrooms your family has? Adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, measurements, conversions and fractions are only a recipe away! Here are just a few ideas to bring math into the cooking and baking equation this holiday season:
- Menu planning and cost estimating
- Tracking and comparing costs at the grocery store
- Reading and writing fractions for recipes
- Measuring and weighing ingredients
- Converting units
2. Hand Write Holiday Cards and Thank-You's
We all love the ease of sending photo or e-cards during the holidays. However, you could be missing out on a wonderful opportunity for children to engage in authentic and purposeful writing opportunities. Don't want to give up the photo card? Order the postcard style which will allow your child to write a message on the back. Additionally, having your child write thank-you cards can also provide another real-world writing occasion while also teaching gratitude and manners.
3.Talk About Beloved Movies and Stories
Many of us have our favorite holiday films and stories we watch each year. Having a conversation around those books and movies and asking your child about their favorite character and part, why they like one film more than the other, etc. can help your child learn to think and speak critically about content they read or see. Pro tip: keep the conversation natural and casual and avoid making it feel like a book report.
4. Game Night!
Family game night can be a wonderful opportunity to practice problem solving, flexibility, cooperation, sportsmanship, and other important social skills. There are many games out there that also provide some serious learning opportunities as well. Here are just a few of our favorites!
- Scrabble: spelling, vocabulary and literacy skills
- Yahtzee: addition, multiplication, and probability
- Monopoly: counting money, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and problem solving
- Memory, Go Fish, and other games for younger children: increase memory and cognition while strengthening short-term item retrieval
5. Explore Traditions Around the World
Our world is full of holiday traditions and rich cultural experiences. Spend some time researching customs across the world and learn about all the different ways people celebrate this time of year. Try out a craft, recipe, song, or story that is new to your family to make the research come to life!
6. Build Speaking and Listening Skills
Two of the most important, yet often overlooked, skills children need are the ability to actively listen and to speak. One idea is to take advantage of time spent with relatives you might not see regularly. Have your child interview family members about their favorite holiday traditions and memories.
7. Foster Creativity
The holidays can be a time full of inspiration for those kids who love exploring their creative side. Innovation through the arts enhances cognitive abilities, relieves stress, and helps children strengthen critical thinking skills. Take a break from those devices and make homemade cards, ornaments, and other crafts. Have a child who is into music? Have them learn some festive tunes, or better yet, create a song of their own.
8. Go Outside
One of the greatest learning opportunities we have is in nature's classroom. Spending time outdoors provides limitless opportunities for exploring, observing, questioning, and collecting. Encourage your child to snap pictures of any plants or animals they find interesting. Collect pine cones and other natural pieces for crafts or table scapes. Bundle up, be spontaneous, and let nature surprise you with what she can teach you!
9. Give Back
The holidays can be an incredibly difficult time for many in our community. Finding ways to volunteer locally, as a family, provides a wonderful teaching opportunity in which we can model empathy, gratitude, and service.
10. Set Goals Together
As we head into the new year, adults often think about goals and plans. Include your child in this time of reflection. What have they been the most proud of during this past year? What would they like to improve upon in the new year? What goals and dreams do they want to accomplish? Even better, start a yearly tradition by writing down these goals and reflections together to revisit at the end of next year before setting new ones!