It’s the time of year where students, City Year AmeriCorps members and teachers take a much-deserved break from school to celebrate and relax with their families and loved ones. Although winter break can be crucial for recharging, studies show that school breaks can affect the amount of information students retain while out of the classroom.
How can you help students balance rest and relaxation with staying engaged in their learning? Winter learning loss, sometimes called winter learning slide, can be reduced in a variety of ways. Whether you’re a mentor, teacher or parent, this list of tips will help you encourage continued learning over the winter break with students while also having fun.
Spend time in the kitchen
Encourage students to read recipes and help measure out ingredients. Sometimes recipes, especially for the holidays, may need to be doubled. Students can help with the math and marvel at the science of how raw food becomes cooked and how combined ingredients form something different altogether.
Whether it’s a short book, article or even a Facebook post, spend time showing students the value of reading written words. Research shows that reading is a great way to keep students learning when they have school breaks.
While walking, riding or driving, create a game encouraging students to read familiar words on billboards or signs. Younger students can locate specific words or words beginning with certain letters.
For older students, take the time to read the same book they’re reading and then discuss the content of the book with them. If there’s a movie out based on a book, read the book first and then go see the movie together!
Explore adventures online
If you have access to the Internet, you and your student can play online games, take online courses and watch interesting videos about new ideas and concepts. Websites like Free Rice and Khan Academy are great, free resources for online learning.
Embark on a trip
Libraries and museums often offer free school vacation programming and make a great “field trip” for scholars of all ages. Afterward, be sure to reflect with students about what they might have learned on these trips.
Use words to create something new
The holidays and new year may offer specific opportunities for writing thank you notes or place cards. Both are great opportunities for young students to practice their writing skills. Plus, handwritten holiday cards make great gifts for your loved ones. For older students, try writing a letter to the editor or their Senator about a topic of interest and passion.
Another idea is to read newspaper articles together and encourage your student to find something they’re interested in. Discuss this topic with them or encourage them to journal about it.
Create time for imaginative play
Encouraging students to tap into their imagination to tell stories is a great way to keep them engaged in learning over the winter break. Students can write and perform plays or puppet shows that they create themselves. Students can also use their imagination to create new scenarios—for example, you can turn part of a room into a corner store complete with pretend money, items for sale and price tags to help foster analytical thinking in a creative space. Activities like these can involve the entire family and gets everyone involved.
Learning can happen in a variety of ways inside and outside the school setting. From engaging in cultural traditions to spending time with family, the opportunities are vast when encouraging students to continually engage their curiosity during winter break.