Parent Tips for the Winter Break from the National Middle School Association
As the break approaches our children's thoughts turn to everything but school. While the break is actually a terrific time for our 10- to 15-year-olds to solidify their learning from this school year and practice skills for the next year, let's be clear about this. We aren't talking about worksheets, tests, or book reports; we are talking about real-life learning that is fun, stimulating, and useful.
With any luck, your young adolescent already chooses to read for fun. That should continue during the break. All you have to do is make sure that a variety of reading materials are available—from libraries, book sales, and friends. If your children are not already readers by choice, the break can be an excellent time to turn them into lifelong readers. The same ideas apply, but you may want to start with magazines, comics, or non-fiction materials on topics they are passionate about.
Above all, make time for reading—keep screen time (TV, computer, video games, text messaging) to a minimum. Set a good example for your kids by reading for pleasure in front of them and occasionally talking about your reading—and theirs. Or, choose a movie that you would both like to see and read the book together first. After watching the movie, have a discussion about the similarities and differences.
The writing piece will be a bit more difficult, but encourage your youngster to write to friends, compose stories, or begin a daily journal. While most of us do a fair amount of writing via e-mail, there is something special about actually writing someone a note or postcard, so keep a supply of writing materials and stamps readily accessible.
Finally, there are numerous break opportunities to brush up on math skills. Take your young adolescent shopping with you and have him compute the best buys and track the savings. Or, have him compute baseball averages, track and field distances—any athletic event where numbers are involved.
The idea is to keep your young adolescents using the reading, writing, and math skills they learned during the year.