10 Innovative Ways You Can Keep School Break Fun And Educational!
By Chelsea McLeod
It’s the time of the year when we are approaching March breaks in various areas across the US and Canada and the Easter Holidays are right around the corner! Everyone loves these breaks because we have more freedom to gather with family and spend time connecting apart from our usually busy lives. Therefore by learning these 10 Innovative Ways You Can Keep School Break Fun And Educational!
These school breaks are scheduled into the traditional school calendar. In homeschooling, whether or not you choose to take a break, they can still bring a change in routine and focus or a break from extra-curricular activities. Therefore kids, often get some much-needed space for reflection, rest and connection with loved ones, even if they are still homeschooling. More often than not, they can also come with commitments and travelling as tournaments or competitions are often scheduled during this time to align with the traditional school calendar. Therefore, even as homeschoolers, our regular academic focus is put on hold.
This is alright; it’s good to take a break from the everyday routine and bustle of homeschooling life. In a previous blog, we discussed why taking a break from schooling is so important. It is needed for both learners and teachers and provides much-needed rest. Okay, you ask, but what do I do during these breaks to keep encouraging learning? I want to take a break but do not want all of our schooling progress to go entirely out the window. I have taken the time to compile a short list of things you can do over the break.
10 Innovative Ways You Can Keep School Break Fun And Educational!
1. Read for fun
Reading is one of the best ways to bond with your kids. Snuggling up with a good book creates meaningful and focused time where you can connect.
For younger children, you may read the book; however, for older school-age kids, you may take turns. So while you and your child take turns reading to each other this holiday break, remember that some crucial brain development is occurring. Reading gives the brain a workout in the same way that going on a run improves cardiovascular health. So make sure to devote quiet time to reading. Older kids may want to read a novel and discuss it with you rather than take turns.
Reading is so essential and needs not to be associated only with learning. Some kids will say that they “don’t like reading,” but when you get down to it, this is mainly because when they are learning, they do not get to choose what they read. This can make it frustrating for them and sometimes make it hard for them to stay engaged because reading in a learning context is not always catered to their interests. So on this holiday break, encourage your kids to choose a book/or a few books they like and want to read and set aside time each day to do so together.
2. Write Thank You Notes or Holiday Cards
Writing is an essential part of Schooling, but it is something we do in other aspects of our lives and holidays are no different. There is often a list of Holiday Cards to write and send out to family and friends. Also, if you celebrate a holiday in which gift-giving is a part of your traditions, have your kids write personalized thank-you notes to the gift-giver. These writing tasks are perfect for your kids to keep their writing fingers nimble and their brains ready for action!
3. Bake Together
For many, the holidays are filled with savoury and sweet treats. The family gatherings are loaded with all kinds of food and traditional desserts. The big task is to bake these items before attending various family and community events. So why not take advantage of this, make some delicious winter recipes, and indulge in math and science?
Next time you are in the kitchen preparing for your festivities, encourage your child to help bake cookies, but maybe double or triple the batch so they can practice their measurement skills. You can also discuss the techniques you might use to achieve a specific cookie texture or the science of how the oven works. And it’s time to serve those squares, cookies or pie masterpieces; use fractions to figure out how much is left over for another time!
4. Take a trip to the Library
Libraries may seem tedious at first glance but look closer; there are so many adventures within those walls. There are more rows and books than can fit on the shelves at home. There are more books than you’ll know what to do with! Whether reading a new series or an old favourite, there is always something to find at the library. In addition to enhancing reading comprehension, you can get your child a library card and teach responsibility. Finally, many libraries are full of children’s programs and classes to interest children of all ages!
5. Visit a museum or science centre
If you are like those of us who live in a cold climate, you may have to keep your kids indoors more than you would like due to sub-zero temperatures and the risk of frostbite. In this case, kids can get pretty stir-crazy and need a change of scenery, which will help preserve the house and your sanity. So if you need to get out of the house, take your children to a local museum, aquarium, or science centre and explore together. During your regular schooling routine, it might be difficult for your family to take the time for these trips; yet they can be educational, rewarding, and fun for the whole family!
6. Play Board Games
Holidays bring with them a break from the usual schedule and the business of life. So, sitting down with your family this season and playing games is a great way to connect and develop social and intellectual skills. Playing board games can help kids expand on critical thinking skills such as strategy, analysis, and planning. Also, board games can help to improve basic schooling skills such as addition, subtraction, and reading comprehension. So don’t feel guilty about playing games; you are all getting an intellectual workout while enjoying some downtime together!
7. Solve puzzles
Be it Jigsaws, sudoku, crosswords, or search-a-words…all puzzles are fantastic. Whether you sit down together and complete a puzzle or spend some time alone working through it, they are a great way to challenge yourself and give your brain a workout over the holidays. So why not give your family a new puzzle under the tree for Christmas (if that’s what you celebrate), enjoy some quality time together, and work on developing those problem-solving skills together?
8. Handmake gifts
A gift made by hand carries a more special and heartfelt meaning than one from the store. The time and effort of your labour show your love for the recipient. If you have a list of gifts to give this holiday season, consider making them. Gather all your craft supplies; markers, glue, pipe cleaners, glitter, and scissors.
Also, you can let your kids raid the kitchen for additional supplies such as macaroni, marshmallows, graham crackers, and candy canes; these are great for DIY holiday gifts. You can search Pinterest for inspiration or let their imagination take over and know that this is an excellent way for your kiddos to work those creative muscles.
9. Create a family tree
Time for a history lesson! Explore your family history and research your heritage together to compile a family tree. Many families spend the holiday season with their extended family, which makes it a fantastic opportunity to encourage your children to take an interest in learning about their heritage. While appreciating a slower season and spending time with your immediate family, take the time to reflect on where the various branches of your family have come from.
Have your kids come up with a list of questions they could ask of older family members. It’s also a unique way to hear family stories and learn about the childhood experiences of older relatives that you may not have previously heard. Everyone, young and old, will enjoy going down memory lane together and connecting over these stories of their lived experience.
10. Stay active
The last of our ten ways to keep fun and learning happening during a school break is to stay active. If you live in a colder area, staying snuggled up with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix may be tempting. While this can be a relaxing way to spend time with the family, doing something active is another great way to enjoy family time over the holidays.
So if you can, and the temperatures in your area allow for it, get moving! Take your kids skating, sledding or out to make a snowman. Fresh air and activity are both great for developing brains. Kids also experience many other benefits from exercise, including maintaining strong bones, muscles, and joints.
Kids who exercise also improve the quality and quantity of their sleep, which means they will be even more well-rested when they choose to resume schooling after the break! Now, if you live in a much colder climate and are in the middle of a cold snap where you cannot spend time outside, you can still keep your kiddos active indoors. Get them to join you for yoga, play some active video games such as Wii Fit (bowling, step aerobics, dancing, etc.) or engage in other healthy fitness activities while still staying warm!
A time to rest and reflect.
During this holiday season, no matter what holidays you celebrate, there are many ways to keep fun and learning happening. This season often brings a slower pace and time to rest, reflect and make space for other activities. A break from our regular schooling routine can lend itself to a necessary reset for the whole family, but it doesn’t have to be a complete departure from learning.
And sometimes, for parents concerned about the gap in learning, there are numerous ways to keep kids’ brains working, even if they don’t know! So take a look at the list of 10 Innovative Ways You Can Keep School Break Fun And Educational and choose one or all of these things to do with your family, and rest assured that the break won’t take away all of the academic progress you and your kids have made.