It’s the start of the Christmas break and no doubt the last thing on most young people’s minds is homework. But it is important to keep the mental wheels turning over the next couple of weeks. Some educators say for many elementary school age children, academic progress become most evident when students return from Christmas vacation. However, the challenge for parents may be introducing school work at a time when Holiday activities are far more enticing.
Many elementary school students across Metro Atlanta did receive “Winter Packets” or worksheets to help keep their minds fresh for the second half of the school year. This is the direct approach that ensures specific academic skills are reviewed. There are other holiday activities to keeps young minds sharp. Arts and crafts activities like: painting, ceramics, drawing pictures and even making cards keeps the creative juices flowing. Baking treats like Christmas cookies, ginger breads and cakes can help teach the importance of following directions, understanding measurements and even knowledge of kitchen activities. Playing card games can actually exercise math skills, and working on Christmas puzzles and board games helps develop concentration.
Writer, Jennifer LeMaire, of the Yahoo Contributor Network, compiled a Top 10 list of Educational Winter Break Activities for Elementary and Middle school students. LeMaire’s list includes online activities like visiting museums. Some of her choices include: the Online Titanic Museum, Olga’s Gallery Online Art Museum, Smithsonian Online, and Museum Stuff which is a clearinghouse of thousands of online museums. Also recommended is WebQuest. This is a learning tool where the focus is not so much on finding information on the Internet, but on inquiry-based instructional activities. Students learn how to use the information discovered in the most educational and meaningful way. Two popular webquest sites are University of Connecticut Literacy Web and Lee’s Summit.
Make long car rides educational is also on the list. This activity is particularly good for young children to practice letter and number recognition by identifying them on license plates, road signs etc. And of course, nothing beats reading. A trip to the library over the Christmas break benefits students of all ages from practicing word recognition, to knowledge gathering and basic entertainment. There is certainly nothing wrong with visiting some worksheets that recap classroom knowledge. Parents are encouraged to remind and help their children to complete packets sent home by teachers, because it only helps student maintain what they have already learned. But also remember to incorporate the learning activities that may not be so obvious to the child, but will continue the teaching and learning process over the Christmas break.