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Holiday Stress – Retaining facts

Are you stuck with the realization that every time we take an extended break from schooling, our kids forget facts that we worked so hard to get in their brains. This isn’t just true for the holiday break, but even in the summertime when the break is even longer.

  • Bridging worksheets or is there a better way? Of course bookstores are filled with books that contain bridging activities/worksheets. If you can pull it off, you could let your children fill in a worksheet or two each morning before heading off to some fun, but most families don’t particularly enjoy that. Through the years of homeschooling, we have always taken a break over break time, but we never stopped reading and we never stopped playing games.
  • Reading: I always said that once my kids could read, I was becoming obsolete, because they could teach themselves anything and it is true. I wanted my kids to be great readers, and I was very disappointed to find out after bringing them all genres of fiction and often requiring them to read for 30 minutes a day that they could read really well and understood it all, but were not really that interested in fiction! I was a bit worried by this fact, until I realized that they were actually a lot like me, who rarely read fiction, but devour non-fiction. My very artistic son enjoyed graphic novels and comic books a lot and it all started making more sense to me. I’m telling you all this because when I say we didn’t stop reading, I don’t necessarily mean sitting down under the tree with a lovely classic. Don’t be surprised if it involves technical journals or other non-fiction.
  • Games: If you get a few educational games that cement the areas that you want your child to work on during the break, you can let them be learning without even knowing about it. There are so many amazing games available that the hardest part is to pick which ones not to buy!

Target, Barnes & Noble & Toys R Us have some great choices, but so do online companies like Amazon and smaller companies that specialize in educational games, like EIE (Excellence in Education). EIE also has a wonderful resource on their website that helps you pick games that relate to specific subject areas and for specific ages. Click this link to take a look.

Of course there are also numerous free online games e.g. timezattack.com to practice multiplication facts and more. If all else fails and you can’t find a game you like online or in the store, you can create your own games for example a family jeopardy show with some of the facts that you’ve been studying and don’t want them to forget as part of the jeopardy game. You could also print your own bingo cards and review things that way. Click here for a link to a free bingo card-maker.

  • Fieldtrips: With maybe a little more time on your hands, you can take the kids on some great fieldtrips. Some fieldtrips don’t even have to be organized, e.g. a visit to the pet store, while others will take a varying amount of preparation to set up.
  • Think like an unschooler: Learning opportunities abound all around us if we just keep our eyes open for it. If you think like an unschooler for a few weeks over the holidays, you will realize that you could still be learning valuable skills while cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, by doing Math calculations in the kitchen (measurements, fractions & possibly multiplication if you are doubling or tripling recipes & even possible division if you are halving a recipe). You could be going shopping for ingredients together and that will suffice for consumer math or money calculations. You could read a short picture book about Thanksgiving or do some fun online games & activities. If you would like a unit study for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year, check out sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. Vocabulary words can flow out of the book you read as well as some Geography. For Science you could read up a little beforehand on turkeys and the digestive system and then just chat about it while cooking your turkey. If you don’t eat turkey, I think you can think of something similar for whatever you’re cooking. You could casually discuss the nutritional value of each food you are preparing. The possibilities are endless.

I hope these ideas inspired you to be proactive in retaining newly attained knowledge instead of letting it loom over you the whole holiday season.