Tips for You and Your Kids to Survive the Holidays
It’s holiday and vacation time. The stress is already building with everything you’ve got to get accomplished, and you are dreading your child’s usual meltdown. It’s ironic that the more you try to “be of good cheer” and make family time together meaningful and joyous, the more difficult it becomes and the worse the outcome. If that’s not enough, you know the long winter break is going to mean academic backsliding for your child … how are you going to tackle all that?
Good news – we can help you keep sane and enjoy the holidays! Just follow these tips for a successful season of celebration …
- Preview, Preview, Preview
No matter how old your child is (yes, even those adults), if s/he struggles with being flexible, it is important to preview any changes to your routine before holiday and vacation time. Sure, you may be excited to be taking a vacation away from home and you are ready to hop on that plane or in the car for hours on end in order to get to your destination, but is your child ready for that? Even if it is as simple as having company over that increases the numbers in the house, your child might get easily overwhelmed and not behave the way you expect.
Taking just a few moments several days before the change in routine comes to go over what will be different – and why – will help your whole family have a smoother transition. Make sure to revisit the changes coming several times before the actual date to assure you and your child are prepared. Include your child in the process as you determine the best ways to cope with this shift in his/her routine. That way, you’ll be able to refer to the decisions you made together when the time comes.
Bonus tip: You’ll find you are more organized and ready if you preview with your family – it’s like adding a checklist and checking it twice to catch all the details!
- Fun With Apps – on the Tablet and the Table!
The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends, making and eating lots of good food. It can take a long time to make the meals, or to get to the places where you’ll have them. This is a good time to engage your kids’ academic skills while having fun.
There are a lot of great apps out now for all types of tablet devices, whether it’s math, reading, spelling, history, or other subjects. Have the fun yourself first – experiment with free ones to start and find which apps your child enjoys the most, then challenge him/her to a game. Set an amount of time to use each type of app, unless your child is having so much fun, s/he doesn’t want to stop!
Bonus tip: New apps are being created and made available all the time – don’t forget to check for new ones periodically.
The other type of app – the food appetizer – is a reminder of another way to work on academic skills with younger children. Set aside time for your kids to join you making the holiday cookies, or even the family roast. Recipes involve reading, measurement, estimation, sequencing, and fine-motor skills, to name just a few. By involving your kids in the preparation of the meal, they’ll practice these skills while enjoying time spent with you…and the investment they make in the food makes it that much tastier, too!
Bonus tip: Make sure you give yourself extra time and extra ingredients if you are involving your kids in cooking for the first time – it may take longer or a couple of tries to get it right, but the many rewards are well worth it.
Middle and High School
- Break It Down
Older children may have homework over the break from school…and they’re probably not too happy about it. Surliness, sleepiness, and general avoidance may surface now more than ever, and you most likely will be on the receiving end (this is the stage where everything is your fault).
Before the school break comes, find a good, quiet time to sit down with your child and talk about impending assignments over the vacation. Offer to help break these assignments down into smaller, daily chunks that won’t take up a lot of time. If you know there will be a day or two where getting homework done isn’t possible, make sure to discuss this and make time in the other days to accommodate the work. Ideally, find a parallel example of something you have to do over the break that takes several steps to manage and accomplish (gift shopping and wrapping, anyone?). Add a daily reward that you and your child agree on, to be “redeemed” or enjoyed when that day’s work is completed.
Looking for more ideas to keep your kids sharp over the holidays? Share your tips and questions: http://www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandTutorial