Education Wednesday: Making the Most of Winter Break

The holiday season is upon us and winter break is quickly approaching. With weeks away from classes, it is vital that students stay engaged in activities that continue their learning. Maximizing this free time to sharpen skills and gain new experiences can bridge students’ knowledge from one semester to another.

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Make education a fun part of the winter holiday. Courtesy: Children and Winter blog

Winter break is a much awaited time where students can rest from busy schedules and packed course loads. However, students’ learning should not go into hibernation during this time. While hours of unstructured free time may be on your child’s mind, spending at least thirty minutes a day studying can keep kids thinking and reinforce skills learned in school.

Set a holiday routine that combines academic study, freedom to work at their own pace, and fun with friends and family to help students make the most of their break.

Aundrea’s 6 Skill-Sharpening Activities to Try Over Winter Break

  1. Family book club: Select a book for the whole family to read over the holiday. Meeting weekly to discuss the plot, character development, and personal feelings about the story will boost reading and critical thinking skills. Time spent discussing readings with family is also a special way to learn new things about each other. Find reading suggestions at Latinas 4 Latino Lit, co-founded by The Wise Latina Club’s Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.
  2. Holiday letter-writing: Brighten a neighbor, friend, or family member’s day by sending warm holiday messages. Have students handwrite a letter to Santa Claus (my favorite as a kid), send thank you cards for gifts received, or keep a holiday journal. These are all great ways to practice writing skills over the break.
  3. Board games: For ages 2 or 92, board games are a great collaborative way to learn. Interacting with friends and family to strategize and problem-solve builds non-cognitive communication and interpersonal skills. Games such as Cranium help activate creative thinking skills, while games such as Ka-Ching and Scrabble (a Gregg family favorite) engage math and language arts skills. 
  4. Family history project: A Christmas where I received a family history journal is one of my most memorable holidays. As I spent time talking with older relatives, I not only learned more about their lives but also the origins of my family. While everyone gathers, have students interview relatives and report what they learn.
  5. College prep: For high school students, utilizing winter break to prepare for postsecondary success is a must. Whether studying for the SAT or ACT, putting the final touches on a college application, or applying for scholarships, this can also be a great time for students to complete or get a start on college prep activities.
  6. Community service: Experiences such as working at a local food bank or collecting donations for less fortunate families provide students the opportunity gain new experiences and give back to their community. Have students embrace the spirit of the holidays through volunteer work.
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Family playing Scrabble. Courtesy: MSNBC

Along with students, many adults will spend extended time away from work over the holiday season. In addition to catching up on my reading list, I plan to complete the next chapter of my online language course. To make the most of your break try a hobby you have been putting off all year, finish that sudoku book, or join in with the kids as they brush up on their skills.

For learners from kindergarten through college, breaks must be utilized for learning. It is imperative that parents and students alike stay involved over the holidays and continue to hone skills. Staying sharp while school is out will give your child a head start towards later academic success.

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An education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What’s you favorite holiday activity?

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