If there’s one thing that will make you appreciate your child’s school, it is having your child home for several days at a time for school break. The holiday or winter break is especially challenging because children can be out of school for upwards of two weeks.
So, in addition to the sometimes hectic pace of the holidays, last minute purchases, wrapping gifts, cooking, preparing to travel or host guests, etc. you now have the little ones under foot as well. How can you keep them occupied over several days so you don’t have to hear the dreaded, “I’m bored” refrain numerous times a day? Well, here are five ideas to help!
1. Plan ahead
During these final days of school before their long holiday break begins, make yourself sit down and actively strategize and plan ahead. Schedule play dates and other activities with their friends. Get together with a few other busy moms and see if you might be able to take turns hosting everyone’s kids. Make it a significant enough block of time so that each mother can really accomplish some things on the holiday to-do list. A half or even full day could be just the ticket to give you uninterrupted time to complete several tasks before the holidays.
2. Rely on your local library
Public libraries have become increasingly creative and diverse in the events and programs they offer and those for children are no exception. From Lego building hours to weekly movie events to even specialized reading times for kids to read aloud to a nonjudgmental furry friend (i.e. a Pet Pals reading program), libraries have really evolved since most of us were children.
While you’re at the library for one of these events, be sure to stock up on reading materials for the kids. Some libraries also have materials such as puzzles, magazines and movies that can be checked out.
3. Reading and Learning Times
Just because your child is away from school doesn’t mean he or she should be taking a lengthy, two-week break from learning. Two weeks to a child is a very long time and you don’t want them forgetting what they have been learning up to this point. So schedule some time to go back over math problems or other work they have already been doing in class. If a child is weak in certain areas, such as reading comprehension or spelling, spend a little extra time working on these issues.
Ideally, it would be great to carve out a little time on a daily basis. Doing it at the same time may get the child into that mode better as well. For instance, when they see it’s 10 a.m. each morning they know it’s time for reading, math flash cards or whatever. With technology has come a plethora of educational apps on everything from speech development to science. Kids quickly lose track of time doing these interactive learning games or videos and it won’t feel like a must-do for them at all.
The length of these learning periods should vary based on your child’s age, how quickly their attention starts to wonder and the activity itself. Shoot for 30 minutes (60 minutes if it’s an online learning app). Consider scheduling one in the morning and another in the early evening.
4. Winter Break Camps
Everyone has heard of summer camps for children but, surprisingly, camps are now popping up for these shorter breaks as well. Some creative companies have caught on to the idea of needing to have winter break camps for kids. If you’re in a situation where you can’t take time off work for this two week period, such activities can be a great alternative to simply calling a babysitter.
Online sites like kidscamps.com or Our Kids can give some direction or just simply Google search a generic phrase like “winter camps for children” to find other leads or regional references. Many of the camps revolve around a theme, like dinosaurs, science or sports.
5. Get active
Physical activity, especially in the winter months for most areas of the country, is often one of the first things to go by the wayside. However, kids need a way to let loose with some of their energy. On days when it’s sunny and not too cold, try to plan for some outdoor activities such as taking a walk, going to a park with a children’s playground, planning an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt, or even taking advantage of the snow by going sledding or building a snowman. Most fast food restaurants have indoor play centers. Many cities are also getting businesses with indoor trampolines, foam pits, etc. for the kids to go wild jumping, climbing, etc.
6. Get crafty
There are countless craft activities for which you can plan ahead, no matter your child’s age or skill level. Make homemade ornaments for the Christmas tree; help your child make and decorate a memory box for storing special things like programs, ticket stubs and other items from things they do; make a collage with clippings from old magazines; do snowflake paper cut-outs; create puppets with lunch paper bags or old socks and then plan a puppet show; make holiday gifts for each other; create fun sleds using candy canes as the base and other unique materials for the rest.
When in doubt or stuck for new and innovative ideas, an internet search is the way to save the day. Pinterest, for example, has tons of ideas on easy craft projects and activities to do with the kids.
We hope these ideas from Classroom Essentials Online have proven helpful in filling your child’s days with fun and varied activities. We will provide a similar, detailed guide before the summer school break to help make the summer recess transition a little easier. Until then, happy holidays! We look forward to serving you in the new year.