Keeping the learning spirit bright through the holidays

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Taking any extended break from the classroom can have a negative impact on children’s ability to retain information. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep children active and sharp during breaks to further their academic success, as that is our main goal at Niles Community Schools.

Though the month of December is usually packed with traveling, holiday parties and more, parents can find all sorts of ways to keep children engaged in learning. Some activities to consider include:

Check out our town — Did you know that the Niles District Library was recently awarded the 2015 State Librarian’s Excellence Award? They have wonderful opportunities over break for children of all ages. Take a look at their daily calendar of activities and visit several times. Why not visit the Niles History Center on Main St. Admission is always free and they are also offering engaging holiday activities. Keep your child active by taking a winter nature walk through St. Patrick’s park.

Get cooking! — Cooking and baking offer numerous learning opportunities, especially during the holiday season when baking is aplenty. Preparing a recipe uses math and fine motor skills. On your next shopping trip, have children compute the cost of ingredients to determine the price of a given recipe. Looking up culinary words in the dictionary targets reading, writing and vocabulary skills. Various cooking techniques, such as boiling water, even offer an opportunity for a science lesson.

Holiday cards — Holiday cards and letters offer lessons with writing skills. Talk to your child about the parts of a letter including the salutation, body, and closing. Give a nod to geography and explore a map to identify where your card recipients live — who lives the farthest away? Who lives north or south of your home? How many different states or countries are you mailing to?

Road trip! — When traveling in the car, test geography knowledge by trying to name all 50 states and their capitals. Play the “license plate game” and take along trivia questions or other puzzles. Have fun developing and asking questions like, “how much will it cost for 10 gallons of gasoline if the gallon price is (fill in the blank)?” Or, “if we drive 60 miles per hour, how long will it take us to go 10 miles, 100 miles, 139 miles?” Road trips can be educational and entertaining!

Of course, students should continue to read during the holiday break. Recreational reading is essential for strengthening vocabulary skills and wonderful for developing a strong imagination.

So during the upcoming two week break from school, be sure to spend time engaged with your child on fun-filled learning activities to help ensure they return to the classroom ready to pick-up where they left off.

Donna Roark is assistant superintendent for curriculum and personnel at Niles Community Schools.