We invest in our children’s learning all year long, whether it’s through private school tuition, extra lessons and therapies outside of school, or flashcard practice at home. While breaks throughout the year can be a welcome relief from routine (at least for the kids!), you don’t want to lose the learning momentum that has taken place over the course of the school year. Here are five things you can incorporate during “off” seasons to help keep your child engaged in learning and round out their school skills with real-life learning:
1. Do a Jigsaw Puzzle
When was the last time your family did a puzzle together? Puzzles develop visual spatial skills and hone short-term memory. They have an added benefit of potentially lowering our heart and breathing rates as we focus on the task at hand. Start with relatively easy puzzles to build their confidence and teach puzzle strategies like putting together the edge pieces first and sorting pieces according to shape or color. Eventually work toward puzzles that are more difficult with more pieces. If you are pressed for space or don’t have puzzles lying around the house, try the free puzzle app – Jigsaw.
2. Read a Story Together
Reading out loud together can encourage a love for books more than anything else. This is especially true if your child struggles with any aspect of reading. As you read, take time to discuss the story and have your child make connections to their life, but keep the reading enjoyable and try not to cram in too many strategies or techniques. Those strategies can be helpful, but be deliberate about reading just for fun every once in a while. If you do want to incorporate a strategy, have your child describe or draw a scene you come across.
3. Bake or Build Something
Depending on your and your child’s affinities, you can help them develop measuring and fraction skills with real-world, hands-on experience. If your child has been exposed to fractions already, double or halve a cookie recipe. This gives them a physical representation of what it looks like to add and subtract fractions. If you are measuring materials for building, have your child do the measuring and teach them the value of “measure twice, cut once!”
4. Play Board Games
Playing games can be a wonderful reinforcement for so many skills. Just about any game sitting in your closet requires counting, making change, problem solving, quick thinking, persistence, or reasoning. If you don’t already have it, a great game for reasoning, logic, identifying patterns, and visual perception is SET. But really, any card game can be a wonderful learning tool. Aside from learning skills, turn taking, losing graciously, and winning appropriately can be reinforced as well.
5. Write Thank You Notes or Letters
If the break falls over Christmas time, your child can work on thank you notes to generous gift givers. Allow them to write the notes in whatever way works best for them. Typing gives kids with graphomotor struggles a break, while challenged spellers can use spellcheck to correct their work. Tech-savvy students may want to create a photo slide presentation or short video to convey their gratitude. Not only are your kids having an opportunity to practice expressing their thanks, but they are engaging their creativity as well. Grandparents will love it!