Holiday Academic Skill-Builders

During the holidays, parents sometimes worry about how to keep their school-age children engaged in productive activities. With a little imagination, the holidays can offer many opportunities for growth and enrichment in academic skills that can be fun without seeming like school.

Here are some academic skills activities that parents can use to help their students improve their thinking, reading, and writing skills.

Following directions/ Sequence
Many students struggle with the idea of sequence. Often, when they are asked to repeat directions or recount a series of events, they become flustered. Enlisting their help in the kitchen will allow them to use all their senses and emphasize the importance of these skills. Cooking enables them to picture and experience each step. Ask them to use time/ order words (first, next, then) before moving on to the next set of directions. When enjoying the delicious scent wafting from the oven, ask them to repeat the directions to you. Better yet, wrap up some treats as gifts and ask your children to paraphrase the directions onto a recipe card.
Vocabulary
Christmas carols and traditional songs are full of rich, and sometimes obscure, words and expressions. They provide opportunities to discuss word meanings and context.  Some students might enjoy looking up the stories behind their favorite Christmas carols or the traditions referenced in them.
Writing
If your family sends out an annual letter, students could contribute to portions that are meaningful to them or write captions for family photographs. They could also write thank you notes to relatives that describe how they have used their gifts and how much they appreciate their presents. Encourage strong vocabulary (believe it or not, many students enjoy using the thesaurus) and sentence variety.
With a little bit of creativity, many activities during this season can become important opportunities for learning. Happy Holidays!

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