One of the challenges teacher’s face when teaching children is preventing the skill slide that can come during breaks from school. Often, a child goes from practicing their reading and math every day to not touching a school books for weeks. This creates the potential for students to lose some of the skills they worked hard to gain during the school year. This isn’t unavoidable. Here are five ways parents can help their kids continue to advance their skills, even when they aren’t in school.

Books, Books and More Books

One of the best ways for parents to help their kids during the winter break is to encourage them to read books (or read books to them). This helps them remember things like sight words and gives them a chance to practice sounding out words they don’t recognize. 

Christmas is a great time to find books to read with children. Many of their favorite characters from TV and movies are in small, holiday-themed books. These books are great stocking stuffers and reading them with your kids can help them improve their reading skills. 

Letters to Santa

Another way to encourage kids to practice their spelling and penmanship is by encouraging them to write letters to Santa. Make sure their letters include a portion with a regular message to Santa. If it’s just a list of toys they want, they aren’t practicing proper spelling. If they have already written their letter to Santa, encouraging kids to write their own message in cards to family members is another way to help them learn. Remind them that anything they write in the card will make a great gift for grandparents and other family members.   

Download Activity Sheets

Since kids have a lot of free time during breaks from school, one way to keep them busy is by giving them activity sheets. There are many places online where parents can download grade-appropriate activity sheets for various subjects. For example, the American Dental Association has many holiday-themed activity sheets that are fun for kids, teaches them about taking care of their teeth and helps them practice various skills that can help them succeed in school. If you’re looking for math-related activities, here is a link for math activity sheets from KidZone. 

Spend Time in the Kitchen

Obviously,  schools are a great place for kids to learn, but it’s not the only place for an education. During the winter break, you can use every day activities to help your child practice their skills in a real-world setting. Simple things like having your child count out the number of eggs needed or having them read portions of the cookbook can help them learn without even realizing. This is especially useful for helping kids learn without being intimidated or embarrassed. Best of all, you get a little extra help around the kitchen. 

Go Explore

If given the option, most kids are more than happy to stay at home and watch television during their holiday break. While it’s fine to have a lazy day every now and then, it’s better for your child’s development to keep them engaged with new and exciting things. Jacksonville is a huge city with parks, historical sites, museums, a zoo and more. Each of these presents and opportunity for kids to have fun while learning new things. It’s also a good opportunity for kids to learn about the subjects that interest them the most. A trip to the zoo could inspire a future biologist and a trip to see the Nutcracker could be the starting point for a new musician or dancer. 

The point of all of this is to remind everyone that education doesn’t just happen in school (though we do a lot). Just because your child isn’t sitting at a desk doesn’t make them any less able to learn new things. By encouraging kids to learn in new ways during the winter break, you can help them achieve more when they return in January.