12 Days Of Holiday Learning
Teachers and parents know that it is important to make learning part of a student’s holidays. With the holiday break fast approaching, we’ve compiled 12 ideas to keep your kids mentally engaged over the holiday season. If you have your own idea, we’d love to hear it!
Follow our 12 Days of Learning to keep your child learning over the holidays
Day 1: Get Crafty Together
Crafts are a great family holiday activity. They reinforce many important school skills like attention to detail, following instructions, and maintaining focus. These activities also encourage creativity and imagination. Plus, kids end up with a great craft that they can feel proud of!
There are many great craft sites available. Check out Oxford Learning guest blogger Secret Agent Josephine and her many great crafts on Alpha Mom. This one for holiday wreaths is budget-friendly and uses many supplies that you have around the house. Families with older kids might like her recent holiday artwork project.
Day 2: Snuggle Up With A Book
Reading is one of the greatest ways to work on school skills over the holidays. Books not only tell stories of great adventures, they help media-saturated children unplug. Reading also helps children develop their vocabulary and improve reading comprehension. These are all great skills and necessary in the classroom.
Need some ideas on what books are appropriate for what age? Visit Scholastic’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids list for some great book suggestions broken down by age groups.
Day 3: Take a Hike
We all know physical activity is good for our bodies, but studies have shown that physical activity is great for the brain as well! Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the brain which increases memory function as well. To put it simply, once you get the blood pumping, you get the wheels turning.
Why not take advantage of the holiday weather and go on a family hike? Chase the kids around. Have a snowball fight, or walk around the neighbourhood and look at the lights. Whatever you plan for the holidays, include physical activity and your kids will stay sharp for the entire season.
Day 4: Play Video Games
Your kids may be fully intending to play video games day in and day out over the school break. Before you pull the plug, research has indicated that video games might not be as detrimental to kids’ mental development as we tend to think. In fact, certain interactive video games might actually help children develop skills that pay off in the classroom.
So if you’re up for the challenge, pick up the controller and get them to teach you how to play! Having your children play teacher allows them to think logically about the game and how they play it.
Day 5: Roll the Dice
Board games are a great way to get families to interact over the holiday in a fun way. Playing board games can help kids develop critical thinking skills like strategy, analysis, and planning. They also help improve basic school skills such as addition, subtraction, and reading comprehension.
That’s not all. Board games are a great way to step away from technology for an hour or two and simply spend quality time together.
Check out our Board Games and Learning post for some great game suggestions from our readers.
Day 6: Use Your School Agenda
The holidays are perfect for relaxation and celebration, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget about school. Studies show that children actually crave structure and routine. Over the holidays, use an agenda to stay organized and focused, and to get a head start on January assignments. Just as your child uses a school agenda to keep schoolwork organized, he or she can use one to organize the holidays. Sit down together to record holiday activities and January assignments in the agenda. For example:
- Dec 23 11AM — 12PM start Science project
- Dec 24 8PM — Caroling in City park
- Dec 25 Christmas! Do NOT wake parents before 7AM!
- Dec 26 11AM — 12PM Science project
- Dec 27 11AM — 12PM Science project — go to library
- Dec 29 1PM — Skating party
- Dec 30 11AM — Leave for Grandma’s
Make sure you reference the agenda every day over the holidays so your child can practice time management! Try to fit in one hour for school work every day, even just to go over school notes, read, or organize a binder or pencil case.
Use the agenda during the holidays to emphasize the idea that school doesn’t end just because kids are on break. Create a seamless transition to back-to-school by staying organized and on-track.
Day 7: Go to the Library
Libraries are more than just a place to find books. For the developing reader and/or the student of any age, the library can help develop a certain sense of discovery and motivation to learn. Even just the experience of going to the library and borrowing books can help kids feel a sense of ownership.
Day 8: Keep A Holiday Journal
Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be about sitting down and writing for a period of time. This task can be daunting, especially if keeping a journal is something that was assigned in class.
Journals can be about anything at all. They can be used to sketch, to make lists, to keep track of favourite quotes, or to create mind-maps. You can glue things in them. You can tear pages out. There really are no rules. The point is to put pen to paper and get introspective. It’s about putting aside some time every day to think actively and document the thought process.
Day 9: Go Online
Let’s face it: even the best Christmas presents lose their appeal after a few days. So, why not task the kids with doing some sort of online research project? Any topic goes, whether it’s a favourite animal, or what model of snow blower is the best value. Ask the kids to locate the information for you, and then have them tell you what they discovered.
This is also an opportunity to have important conversations about online safety and how to judge reputable sources online. Have kids take note of where information comes from and ask them to analyze the quality of one site over another. Media literacy is a skill that will become increasingly important as kids age. If you can combine important thinking and learning skills with holiday fun, then everybody wins.
Day 10: Send Holiday Thank You Cards
Everybody sends cards before the holidays, so why not start a new tradition of sending holiday thank you cards after the holidays? Make a list of recipients and their addresses. For younger kids, have them decide what they want to say and write it out for them on a sheet of paper that they can use for reference. Then grab the pens and get writing! It’s a great way to practice penmanship and try out some new vocabulary words!
Try to incorporate some of the words from this Christmas vocabulary list.
Day 11: Get Puzzlin’
Crosswords, word searches, puzzles, and sudoku books are all great ways to challenge the mind. The process of trying to figure out a problem and work through the steps needed to reach a solution gets your child’s brain firing on all cylinders.
You can turn these solo activities into group games by attempting a puzzle together. During the puzzle, try talking through the steps and explaining your reasoning to each other.
Day 12: Chip Away at Schoolwork
There are many creative and unique ways to incorporate learning into the school holidays. But sometimes, the simplest solution is best: do a little bit of schoolwork everyday. This is especially important for high schoolers. If your teen has a school assignment over the holidays, make a plan to work on it a little bit everyday. This will help avoid the “I-go-back-to-school-tomorrow-and-I-haven’t-started-my-project” stress, and also make sure they are getting enough revision time to learn and absorb important facts.
Keep Your Child Engaged Over Break With These Holiday Study Tips
Just like over the summer break, kids’ motivation can take a nosedive over the holidays. It doesn’t take long for it to happen. The best way to prevent a holiday brain drain is to maintain the momentum. Even if no schoolwork has been assigned, organize notes. Tidy binders and pencil cases. Clean out book bags. Read over notes and highlight keywords. Make study notes. As much as students may wish – the holidays won’t last forever! Make these 12 days of learning a part of your holiday so your child is set to go back in January.
Have A Holiday Learning Tip of Your Own?
Share it with us and other parents on the Oxford Learning Facebook page!