How can I keep my student focused during winter break?

Congrats!  You’ve made it to winter break!  A well-deserved break from home work and school obligations.  To help prepare for a smooth transition back, you can help your child stay mentally active over break with these fun family activities;  READ for pleasure, WRITE thank you notes, JOURNAL your travels or activities, COOK together, GAME nights, CRAFT for fun and most of all….ENJOY your time and MAKE wonderful new memories!

Jackie Scieszinski, Math Teacher at Indian Hills Junior High
Take advantage of daily routines to include a little mental math…for example…it is 8:57.  You have an appointment at 10:15.  How many minutes before your appointment?  It takes 10 minutes to get there. What time should we leave?

Gas is $3.12 per gallon.  How much will it cost if we buy 15 gallons?  With a Costco membership, we can save 3 cents per gallon.  How much will we save if we buy 15 gallons at Costco?

Vary the level of difficulty to match the level of your student.

Shane Scott, WDMCS Director of Curriculum
Any activities that engage the brain in higher order thinking aid in limiting regression of learned skills. It would be best if you knew what your child was learning in school and design activities that can be connected with their most recent experiences at school.

Ideas…teach your child a new card game, challenge them to chess, buy a new board game and learn with them how to play, cook a meal as a family or even take a risk and let them cook it themselves under your supervision.   Read, read, read.  If your child is coming back to summative final exams help them break  up their study plan, a little each day is often easier to digest and sticks into a longer-term memory than the cram session right before the exam.

Remember that what gets planned gets done.

Brandon Pierce, Clive Elementary Principal
Encourage students to keep a diary or journal of winter break events, activities or travels.  Writing a letter to a relative or friend is also a good way to practice writing skills.  To keep math skills sharp, involve your student in cooking (many opportunities for math and measurement), grocery shopping (estimating and addition practice) and purchasing of items from store.  If your child has money or a gift card to purchase items, have them identify items and estimate the total cost.

Read to your child, have your child read to you or listen to audio books together and discuss with each other.

Many educational opportunities exist in the community as well including visiting the art center, science center, zoo and many others.  Making educational trips, discussing their learning and writing about their experiences are all great ways to encourage learning.

We work very closely with Hy-Vee in Windsor Heights.  They use a nutrition point system to help encourage healthy food choices.  For example, you may ask your child to find the cereal with the best nutritional score.  This is an activity we plan to do more with our students later in the year but think it is good for students to help apply some of their learning from health/nutrition instruction in their everyday lives.