Keep Your Children Learning This Winter!

December 5, 2022
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Another fall season has gone by, and for some of you, the winter holidays and festivities mean a break from your regular homeschool routine.  How can you take advantage of this unique benefit of homeschooling while preventing the academic slide that often accompanies extended breaks?  Rather than taking a total hiatus from learning, there are ways to keep the learning going for your children even though you have stopped formal instruction. 

Maintain Academic Skills In A Fun Way

Reviewing skills for even a short period of time every day can prevent your child from falling behind. For example, you can have them play online math apps like Prodigy to review math skills, or you can require that your children read for a certain amount of time each day (consider a “Stop, Drop, and Read!” for the entire family).  Perhaps your children can commit daily to a short period of practicing a second language or an instrument. Here are some other ways to keep up skills:

  • Post math facts or spelling words around the house in areas frequented by your children.  Ask your children to read them as they pass through each room.
  • Mix educational games with other family activities.  For example, play a game of Math War, where you lay down two cards and add/multiply them rather than laying down one card at a time.  Choose board games like Apples to Apples or The Allowance Game to build language and math skills.
  • Incorporate a few documentaries into your television-watching time.
  • Choose a family member to be a temporary pen pal for your children in order to encourage writing.
  • Remember you can count and add/subtract almost anything (i.e., cookies left on the plate, number of snowballs you can make, or how many ornaments are on the tree)!

Capitalize On Holiday Travel 

Traveling to see friends and family over the holidays brings its own rewards.  However, you can improve on those experiences by tying in just a little extra learning.  Here’s how:

  • Take a map in the car for your children to follow as you travel.
  • Play audiobooks while driving so the family can pass the time while discussing literature and highlighting new background knowledge and vocabulary.
  • Explore the important places in the state where you are visiting, including historic sites and art/history/science museums.
  • If you are visiting a snowy destination, find new exercise activities to try, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or snowboarding.

Use Holiday Traditions For Learning 

What holiday traditions does your family have?  Do you know the history of those traditions? Have your children do some research or ask older family members about your traditions.  While enjoying those holiday traditions, you can incorporate some learning too:Learning During the Holidays

  • Prepare for the holidays with your children by helping them make crafts and decorations, write greeting cards (or letters to Santa), and read holiday-related books. Have them practice cognitive flexibility by retelling a favorite story from another character’s perspective.
  • Involve your children in holiday cooking.  Have them write shopping lists, count money and pay for the food (with your guidance, of course), and read recipes.  Play with fractions as you bake holiday goodies together.
  • Incorporate scientific/STEM gifts in your gift-giving traditions and play/build the projects with your children.
  • Help your children write goals for the new year and invite them to help write family goals as well. 

Develop Real World “Soft Skills”

Do you ever get frustrated during your regular homeschool instruction because you feel as though there is so much you want to share with your children but there is just not enough time?  Perhaps a winter “break” can allow you to put some attention on those other skills you want your children to master. Here are some ideas for how to seamlessly incorporate “soft skills”:

  • Pay attention to your children’s interpersonal skills during holiday events. Teach them how to greet family members, share new toys, and create and maintain “small talk.”
  • Develop background knowledge and support problem-solving abilities by discussing current events at family meals and brainstorming creative ideas/solutions for real-world issues.
  • Take some time to organize a living and/or homeschooling area.  Make this a group project so you can incorporate teamwork while also targeting work ethic and attention to detail.  Pick a leader for each part of the project and help your children plan out their parts using time management skills.
  • Do some of those critical thinking activities you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time for.  Work together to solve logic puzzles or Sudoku games before breakfast or do an after-dinner block of rebus brain teasers.

This winter, go ahead and enjoy your break from formal instruction! Spend quality time with friends and family, make memories, and sneak in a bit of learning here and there. Your children may not even notice.


Additional Homeschool Resources

Finding Teachable Moments During the Holidays

Holiday Homeschooling Survival Tips

Creating a Stress-Free Holiday

Happy Holidays Homeschool Unit Study