With the holidays just around the corner, virtual school students and teachers will be taking a break from online learning for a few weeks. Parents, on the other hand, might be wondering if that gap in learning really is such a good idea.
Research shows(opens in a new tab) most children lose about two months' worth of math skills over summer break. Reading skills have also been shown to decline. While a short two or three weeks in December doesn't have the same impact as three months of summer vacation, some parents may continue to worry. For parents seeking out educational opportunities for their kids this holiday break, we've gathered a list and checked it twice. Keep your child sharp with this list of 10 fun learning activities for winter break.
#1. Read for fun.
Reading is one of the best ways to bond with your child. Snuggling up with a good book creates meaningful quiet time in an otherwise fast-paced world.
While you and your child take turns reading to each other this holiday break, keep in mind that important brain development is occurring. Reading gives the brain a workout much like going for a run improves cardiovascular health. Make sure to devote quiet time to good old-fashioned paper books—after all, research shows reading on screens can slow reading time down by as much as 20–30%.
#2. Bake together.
The holidays are a time for sweet and savory treats. Take advantage of delicious winter recipes, and indulge in a little math and science, too!
Encourage your child to help bake cookies, but double or triple the batch to practice measurements. Discuss the techniques you might use to achieve a cake-like or chewy cookie, and how science plays out inside the warm oven walls. When it's time to serve up a slice of chocolate cake or pecan pie, use fractions to figure out how much of the cake or pie is left over for tomorrow.
#3. Write thank-you notes and holiday cards.
Does your family send out holiday cards? Or maybe your child wants to thank an online school teacher? Keep your kid writing, even when the homework is complete! Winter break is a great time to practice handwriting and vocabulary skills.
Not only will your child get practice with the format and tone of a letter, but also he or she will be able to take a trip to the post office with you. Your child will get to see firsthand how a letter is weighed, stamped, approved, and sent to its receiver!
#4. Perform a play.
Winter break is a perfect time to come together as a family to tell stories and recall memories. Kids are fascinated by Mom's old clothes in the attic, or by the story about the time she threw a snowball and accidentally hit Dad in the face. Brr!
Share favorite tales and family history, and then have your kids bring the stories to life on a homemade stage. Turn an old blanket into a backdrop or a hairbrush into a microphone. Not only does your child learn priceless family history, but also he or she wears the hats of director, producer, actor, and set designer!
#5. Visit a museum.
Sometimes kids develop cabin fever if it's too cold or wet to play outside. Take your child to a local natural history museum, aquarium, or zoo. During the school year, it might be challenging to reserve time for these trips, but they can be educational, rewarding, and fun for the whole family. Visiting zoos and museums at an early age can help teach children the importance of respecting animals and the environment.
#6. Stay active.
If you live in an area that experiences a white winter, it may be tempting to stay snuggled up with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix. While this can be a relaxing way to spend time with the family, too much physical inactivity is unhealthy for the body.
To combat this temptation, fold up those blankets, put away the slippers, and get moving! Get your kids to try yoga, Wii Fit, bowling, dancing, or other healthy fitness ideas.
Kids experience many benefits from exercise, including maintaining strong bones, muscles, and joints. Kids who exercise also improve the quality and quantity of their sleep, which means they'll be ready to jump back into their studies when classes resume.
#7. Make handmade holiday gifts.
A gift made by hand carries special meaning. Gather craft supplies such as markers, glue, pipe cleaners, glitter, and scissors. Let your kids raid the kitchen for additional supplies. Macaroni, marshmallows, graham crackers, and candy canes are all great for DIY holiday gifts.
As your child starts assembling a new project, you can rest easy knowing your little artist's imagination is getting a workout, too!
#8. Take a trip to the library.
At first glance, the library can be a slow, quiet place. But look closer, and you will see it's a bustling, rich place to be a kid!
Today's libraries aren't just rows and rows of books, although they do have more books and comics for your child to explore than can fit on your shelves at home. In addition to enhancing his or her reading comprehension, your child will learn responsibility by owning a library card. Beyond the books, libraries are full of children's programs, puppet shows, and computer classes to keep the brainwaves busy.
#9. Attend a winter camp.
Camp isn't just for summer anymore! Organizations like your local Parks and Recreation and the YMCA may offer "winter wondercamp" programs for children on winter break. Programs like those offered by the YMCA give kids a place to learn value characteristics like caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility while making new friends.
#10. Build something.
Building is the foundation for engineering, whether your child uses Legos, clay, or computer code. Teach Kids Engineering(opens in a new tab) is dedicated to bringing up the next generation of engineers. View family-friendly videos, tutorials, and DIY projects. This winter break, engage your kids in computer programming, robotics, and electronics with a wide selection of STEM projects to try at home.
The holidays can be a rejuvenating time of year—they allow us to make new memories and observe traditions. However, for parents and families concerned about the gap in learning, there are numerous ways to keep kids on track. Try some of the activities above, and let us know how they worked for your family!
What activities has your family used to keep your children learning during school breaks? Share your most successful activities in the comments!