The Teacher is Talking: Winter Break-Schmreak…


By Leslie Lindsay

It may be winter break for your kids–and if it’s not, it will be very soon.  With visions of sugarplums dancing in your childrens’ heads, you’re thinking it may be a welcome break from the demands of school.  Or, is it?!

Well, no.  In fact, our first grade teacher sent home an “enrichment activity” to do over the break…something about frames and arrows, dominoes, and math.  She also emailed us and said, “Oh, by-the-way, kids will need to know all 10 weeks of spelling words as there will be a quiz over them.  They are required to  know them automatically (on sight).”

While I don’t balk at education–quite the contrary: I love it.  But I will tell you, I am ready for a break.  You see, at this age, it’s not like I can just call out to my darling daughter, “Oh, remember to do your homework!”  as though I were telling her to eat a gingerbread cookie.  No siree…I must stop my holiday preparations, find the time to work with her (double the time you think it will take) and then coach her along.  I have to listen to her fuss and crab and cry about  it, “But moooommm…it’s break time!  I don’t wanna.”  (Forced smile).

But, on the other hand, I can appreciate what our teachers are doing.  Of course, this two weeks off school shouldn’t be all about sugar and gifts and playtime (though that does sound pretty good)!

Kids need to retain their academic skills in a fun way, otherwise, they will return back to school in January with a brain full of–well–sugarplums.  So, here’s a proposal:

  • Spent just 10 minutes a day reviewing something academic-related.  Be it spelling words or math facts
  • Engage your child in something at home that involves a skill he has worked on in school.  For example, have him measure to the nearest inch the largest present under the tree and then the smallest one, or perhaps she can count the cookies by two’s.
  • Put the holiday cards in alaphabetical order by the family’s last name
  • Read a book out loud to you as you ice sugar cookies.
  • Talk about prioritizing your to-do list with your kids…”Well, we have gifts to wrap, the house to clean, and some baking to do.  What do you think is the most inportant task?  What should we start with?  What can we do while doing something else on our list?”  This devlops critical thinking skills and problem solving.
  • But don’t beat yourself up if you fall a little and simply can’t squeeze in some educational enrichment…it’s the holidays, after all.

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