School is out for a week or more for most kids in America. And the holiday break is a great time to focus on what happens when children aren't in the classroom. It turns out valuable academic skills are lost when the brain is unengaged for an extended period of time. And believe it or not, that can begin to happen even in a week. What's particularly troubling is the achievement gap amongst kids in low-income and minority households as a result. Learning loss can result in poor academic achievement, low self-esteem, and disciplinary problems.
At BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), we strongly believe that education is a 24/7 endeavor. While learning loss is typically associated with the summer months, it can occur over school vacations like the upcoming holiday break. There are lots of very simple things you can do with your kids over the holiday break that are not only fun, but will stimulate your child's brain, helping to prevent learning loss.
Read a book
- Get your kids to read a book while they're home. Take them to the library and let them choose a book of their liking. Read it yourself so you both can talk about it throughout the week.
Access a mentor
- Ask them about what they've done in life and what their goals are. Have them share a story with your child that will inspire your child to learn. Having a strong role model is important to a child's development.
Make math fun (and delicious)
- Need some help cooking this holiday season? Turn recipes into a game with your child by giving them math problems to figure out what you need to add.
Take up a new hobby
- Encourage your child to take up a new hobby over break. Exercising the brain by learning how to do something new will keep it stimulated and not let it get rusty. Ideas can include playing a new sport, learning a new instrument, or building miniature models.
- While movies and T.V. are undoubtedly entertaining, they contribute to learning loss by allowing your child to tune off the brain while they're tuning in. If allowing your child to watch a movie or T.V. show, engage them afterward by asking questions about what they just saw. Let them talk to you about why they enjoyed a certain part or what they think will happen next.
Play some games
- Puzzles are a great brain-building exercise to help with memory and problem solving. Other strategy- and math-related games and brain twisters will keep your child actively thinking.
- Still looking for gifts? The above activities can all be easily translated into affordable gift ideas. Not only will they entertain your kids, but keep them engaged even beyond the school vacation.
The most important thing to remember is to be creative. You can turn practically anything into a learning experience to keep your child's brain stimulated. Not only will this help prevent learning loss, but give your child a positive outlook on learning and improve their attitude. Together, we can help prevent learning loss.