While parents may be stressing over how to keep their kids entertained and engaged in learning over winter break, it’s likely that kids are counting down the moments until that final bell rings (or the last Zoom class is over!). While visions of building gingerbread houses or getting new PS5s dance in their heads, Apex Leadership Co. offers parents and students some easy tips for both decompressing and staying engaged in the learning process over the holidays.

Take it Easy

It’s safe to say 2020 has impacted everyone in some way. Students and parents (not to mention those hardworking teachers and school administrators!) have had to massively adjust their everyday schedules to account for online learning. This has likely taken a toll in some way and that’s ok. Instead of stressing about the current state of their children’s education or worrying they are falling behind, winter break is a good time to just take a pause and allow students to truly take it easy for a few days without having to think about school or the coming semester at all. They too have been put into some new and challenging situations as school formats have radically changed, sometimes literally overnight, in the past few months. So, parents shouldn’t feel “guilty” about allowing students to truly disconnect, to decompress from school and any anxieties or anticipations they have, and to simply enjoy “being kids.” This can mean letting them sleep in or stay up late, connect with friends (safely!), or unwind with a movie binge day — to let them relax and just take it easy.

Get Out of the Routine

Routines are very important during the school year. Many students thrive upon them and actually look forward to, and take comfort in, the structure of a schedule. However, it’s also okay to break from the routine on occasion to do something in the name of decompressing! Take an after-dark drive to check out some holiday light displays or take a day trip to go hiking or play in the snow. Basically, have a little fun! It is the holidays, after all. And everyone could use a little merry and bright this season.

Consider a Camp

Depending on location and availability (and ultimately safety regulations) around the country, parents may want to consider a day camp that engages kids in interest such as a tennis camp, a cooking class, or a coding webinar. There is a multitude of virtual courses offered for a wide range of age groups, too. These types of classes and camps are a great way to keep a schedule and also allow for some fun and interactive learning over winter break.

Children and Teacher in Kitchen During Cooking Classes

Stay Engaged … Secretly

There are many “sneaky” ways to help keep kids stay engaged in learning over the holiday break. After a few days of total decompression, slowly start reinstating the routine, but with fun and downtime mixed in! For example, throughout the break, encourage kids to continue their reading schedules — but allow them to pick out some new books from the library or choose some fun holiday-themed books to read together. When holiday shopping ask the kids to keep a tally of the budget or to figure out the tip when dining out. Get into the kitchen and bake some cookies or try a new recipe together (following a recipe and measuring are both great learning tools!). Parents can plan a family game night and include cool games that stimulate the mind (there are endless ones out there) or challenge their kids to play word apps on their phones like Scrabble Go or Words with Friends.

Add Some Incentive

Most kids may need a little … let’s call it motivation to keep learning over the break. So why not up the ante with a fun incentive? For students that struggle to meet their reading goals, for example, create a challenge for them to read a certain number of books (or chapters or pages, depending on student’s education level) before the end of break. Make it fun by offering age-appropriate and enticing prizes throughout the challenge, with a final reward at the “finish line.”

Get Ready

A few days before the end of winter break, parents and students should work together to get back on track so they are ready for the routine when school is back in session. For those that have been staying up late and sleeping in, work back towards a regular “lights out” time. And parents should encourage kids to start waking up at the same time each morning, ideally working back towards the time they need to wake up to prepare for class on a school day. It’s also a good idea to start looking ahead into the next semester – for many older kids, this means a change in schedule and classes so parents can help them prepare for that as the winter break winds down. By doing this little by little, students (and parents!) will be prepared for the regular routine when school is back in session.

Apex Leadership Co. sees and understands the challenges that have surrounded the typical school year and they commend teachers, school administration and staff, parents, and students for rising to the challenges that 2020 has brought. Apex wishes everyone a healthy and safe holiday and a wonderful winter break.