The holiday season is here! Like most families, my household is already in a flurry of activity — packing, purchasing gifts, preparing for guests and stocking up on supplies for the season.
It is a special time for family fun and togetherness. But in the busyness of the season, it’s important to keep learning and quality time with family at the top of the list, while the kids are on break from school. The holiday season can provide great opportunities to expose children to new ideas and information, reinforce skills and knowledge, and encourage creativity, which supports their success in school. It’s not about following a rigid curriculum, but rather discovering ways to get Little Ones excited about learning.
Trust me, I know that turning on the TV is so much easier than planning an activity. It’s great to give the kids a break from the drudgery of school work over the holidays, but it isn’t what is best for you or your Little One!
Here are some reasons why you should include fun-based learning in your child’s holiday plans.
They will be ready for the new term
You want them to go back to school ready to learn, without struggling to “catch up” from the holiday! Instead of being confused when they resume back at school, they will be eager to move on and do it without struggling. Numeracy and Literacy skills can dip over the holiday, but you can keep children up to speed with their literary work by simply stocking up on some good age appropriate books. Reading and writing can also fall back over the break; other than traditional worksheets, practice can be as simple as challenging your kids to compose grocery shopping lists. You could also ask them to write a note to their teacher about their favorite day or draw a picture of something exciting; this can also be a nice way to keep a diary of what they got up to over the break.
They’ll learn new arts and craft skills
If you let your kids just sit and default to screen-time, it will consume as much time as you allow them to consume on it. So, why not encourage them to head outside or do some craft indoors and see where THAT takes them?
Fun Christmas activity includes making holiday cards and wrapping christmas gifts for family and friends. It’s a great opportunity for children to practice their handwriting, as well as their grammar, spelling and creative writing skills. Also, making gifts at home is a way to encourage creativity.
If families spend quality time together and connect activities at home to what children are learning in school, this will engage our children’s minds, keep their brains ticking while creating a stronger emotional bond. Have the kids been learning about fractions in school? Then pull out the baking cups and measuring spoons, because it’s time to bring those classroom lessons to life!
Little Ones love getting messy, so why not bake a cake with them? Let them do the scooping, measuring and mixing and they’ll be applying their mathematical knowledge, as well as learning about baking. Following a recipe is also good practice for them in following instructions.
Introduce your Little One to the fun world of gardening – scooping up the dirt, placing the seeds in the pots and pouring the water all take fine motor control and strength.
As kids garden, they develop important motor skills that will help them improve their academic skills such as writing, cutting and typing. There are so many teachable math moments when gardening from measuring the soil depth to counting the seeds. You can also embed math lessons into the gardening experience. Gardening is also a great way to teach kids about responsibility. Your Little Ones will learn that they have to take care of their seeds each day in order for them to become healthy plants. To help, you can make a checklist that they can use to make sure they care for their plant every day.
You get to build their memory/recognition skills
NO – Learning through Play doesn’t take long. Your kids won’t even realize they are learning (while playing); for instance you could go on walks, running, ride bikes, swim, play with counters, sand, and water or even just find cool things in the back yard – they don’t know that we are doing anything other than having fun. Also, Board games and Memory Card games are fantastic for exercising little minds and encouraging memory skills. Pull out a memory skills / card game and your kids will be practicing their numbers, letters and shape recognition skills, improving their hand-eye coordination, or refining their visual perception and color identification skills.
Naturally, and understandably, most kids are not interested in doing boring math sheets or spelling quizzes during the holidays, however the holidays are a perfect opportunity to keep your Little Ones learning. It’s a chance to build upon valuable concepts and skills they’ve gained in school, while also discovering new and cool things beyond the classroom walls. The big gag is to make sure they don’t realize they are doing anything remotely educational!
Overall, the holidays should be a time of fun and merriment but not a “get out of jail free” card. Let’s take it as a chance for us to learn together, grow together, and have fun together; because the most important part of the season is spending time with the people you love. And when you add learning to your quality time, it will not only enhance the special moments with your children but also support their academic success.
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