As another extended break approaches, students are eagerly anticipating some down time from the daily demands of a hectic school schedule. Holiday traditions look different from family to family, but having kids sit in front of a screen and game away their break probably isn’t very high on anyone’s heartwarming list. It’s our job as parents to hold Break Brain at bay and help our kids maintain some semblance of the educational nuances that teachers have worked so hard to instill over the past semester.
There’s no need to pull out workbook pages or set aside time blocks to focus on schoolwork over break. The best way to keep learning alive while kids are away from school is to sneak it in when they are least expecting it. Transferring some of the skills and practices from the classroom into some old and/or new holiday traditions is a perfect way to keep kids firing on all cylinders of learning.
Movies- No need to pull out feature length documentaries to make family viewing educational. Go ahead and binge watch some favorites, and then TALK about them. That’s the key, the follow-up and discussion. What themes were present across a series of movies? What are some possibilities for alternate endings? If Katniss Everdeen and Edward Cullen faced off in a game of Quidditch, who would be the likely winner? The focus on plot-shaping events, character qualities, and interwoven themes is perfectly in keeping with classroom activities.
Food Fun- There are so many ways to make food educational. Doubling ingredients, following recipes, building a gingerbread house, experimenting with new flavor combinations, etc. These are all great ways to integrate math and science into the joy of eating! While these are everyday tasks, they do hold some great opportunities for basic calculations, elements of structure and design, etc.
Holiday Correspondence- The art of the hand-written letter has quickly fallen to the wayside with the ease and convenience of a quick text. Taking the time to write a thoughtful thank you for a gift, send a holiday message to a friend or relative, or send a note of appreciation to a civil servant or other individual who makes an impact in the community is time well spent. No one is tucking text messages in memory boxes or hanging them on the fridge. A great way for kids to keep their writing skills polished and work on communication techniques.
Service- While the need for service and volunteerism isn’t exclusive to the holidays, the ability to find activities and causes where assistance is needed may be more prevalent. Empathy is a powerful life skill to instill, and the holidays are a perfect time to do so. Whether it’s making care packages to hand out to the homeless, serving at a soup kitchen, volunteering at a local charity of interest, or turning a family hike into a money earning event with Charity Miles, the need for service and the ability to build a foundation for a lifetime of helping others is a perfect life-skill learning tradition.
Shopping- That’s right; shopping can be educational! Calculating sale prices, determining the savviest usage of coupons, and finding creative ways to stretch those dollars are all great life-skill lessons that utilize basic math and problem-solving skills. Kids that may have received gift cards can spend some time researching how to make the most of their newfound wealth. Coming up with a plan and strategy for tackling holiday expenditures is a great way to get kids reading the fine print, researching, and calculating!
Students need a break from their demanding school schedules, but parents don’t want those minds to turn to mush. Putting a stop to Break Brain is easier than one may think. Finding educational opportunities within everyday activities is a great way to keep learning alive while creating holiday memories.
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