Kids are super excited about the upcoming winter break, as expected. No school means no homework, no learning and turning off their brain, right?
Time off every winter is a great time to eliminate the daily stresses we all participate in, from the morning chaos, afternoon homework, fitting in too many after school activities and over-tired, cranky kids (and parents). It is a time for family, friends, food, and of course, the holidays.
There are many reasons why children (and adults) look forward to this welcomed disruption in their schedules for two weeks.
- Children deserve a pause in their daily routine.
- It enables kids to unwind, relax, take a break from classmates (and teachers) and spend time with family.
- The hiatus removes the pressures of classroom learning, competition among classmates and socializing.
- The daily grind is hard for everyone to keep up with.
As parents, should we be concerned with the break in educational learning over the winter break?
Like a sponge, children’s brains are always open to absorbing knowledge, even though their school might be closed. If we look hard enough and think outside the box, we will realize that learning opportunities are all around us.
While many kids may have reading assignments over the winter vacation, there are still plenty of additional ways to stimulate their minds during their time off, even though they are not sitting in a classroom.
Education presents itself in many forms aside from the ABCs and 123s
If your family is heading out on a trip, do some research together to learn about your destination ahead of time. Ask questions like:
- What is it known for?
- Where is it located in relation to where you live?
- What is the population?
- What places do you want to see while visiting?
If your family is staying at home, discover new local treasures, even in your own backyard. Explore with your kids and start conversations about what you find.
- What plants and trees grow in your yard?
- What animals do you most often see?
- Create an art project out of leaves and other items you have collected near your home.
- Plan a scavenger hunt for your children utilizing nature.
- Explore the local zoo, museums and places you never seem to have time to visit.
Enroll your child in winter break camps in your local area, if cost effective. While some can be pricey, most offer half-day options that are more affordable. This is helpful as a parent who might need to work or complete errands and appointments not appropriate for children. It’s also a great way for your kids to meet new friends, see old ones and explore a specific activity, like sports, art, or theatre.
Schedule play dates where your child can socialize in a small group. It could be with a friend who your child does not get to see often. Bowling, playing tag, and board games are all great options for activities. Your child can learn and be exposed to a new environment at a friend’s house, experiencing a different culture, new foods or games they never played before.
When you think you have run out of ideas, simple, everyday actions can become activities and learning lessons. Involve your children in your holiday cooking and planning.This makes them feel important and special that they were able to contribute to such an important feast. Even a trip to the supermarket can be educational and fun.
When discussing gifts for family and friends, it is the perfect opportunity to educate your child about giving back and being selfless. Try these activities:
- Start an annual holiday tradition and volunteer as a family at your local soup kitchen.
- Let your child pick out gifts to donate to a charity of choice.
- Ask your child to give up a gift and in its place, give a gift to a child in need.
- Design holiday cards as a family to give to a children’s hospital or charity.
- Call local organizations to discover how your family can help.
Instead of looking at winter break as a time when your children are not learning, realize that it is actually the perfect time for them to gain wisdom. When we step outside of our daily schedules, putting more energy into our families, something amazing occurs: The world and everything in it becomes a classroom.
Utilize and invest in the time off to reconnect with your family and together you will all get a very special education this winter break.
Ellie Hirsch is the founder of MommyMasters.com, where she shares her secrets to Mastering Motherhood, providing unique parenting tips, tricks and tools, including her award winning children’s music.