Educational holiday fun
Studies show that holiday brain drain is a reality. Children forget up to 25% of their reading and maths skills during the holidays and it takes teachers up to four weeks to re-teach these lessons. Here are some ways to reinforce key skills and have fun during the holidays
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Studies show that holiday brain drain is a reality. Children forget up to 25% of their reading and maths skills during the holidays and it takes teachers up to four weeks to re-teach these lessons. Here are some ways to reinforce key skills and have fun during the holidays.

Master maths

Research shows that of all the school work, maths suffers the most during vacation, so be on the lookout for ways to use numbers and reinforce maths concepts. Take your child grocery shopping and get him to estimate the total cost of purchases before you get to the till. Cook with measuring spoons, cups and weights.

Read something everyday

Encourage children to read snippets from the morning paper, pamphlets at the supermarket, posters and billboards – in fact, anything! Visit a bookshop or library and help them pick a stash of holiday reads.

Have a quiz

A family quiz can be great fun. One of the adults is quizmaster, making up age-appropriate questions or reading them from a book. Include general knowledge, simple mental arithmetic, odd man out and spelling.

Surf the net

Help your children to find educational games online. It won’t even feel like work because there’s no pen and paper involved but they’ll be getting an educational workout anyway.

Dear diary

Buy your child a notebook to record his holiday experiences. This gives him a chance to practice his handwriting and will give him a head start on the inevitable, “What I did during my holiday” essay.

Project time

Get your children and friends involved in a project for the week. Decide together on a theme. Depending on the topic, you might include a visit to the library or an outing to the zoo as part of the preparation. The children are tasked with making a book or poster on the subject.

Bob the Builder

Haul out defunct appliances, tennis rackets and toys – basically anything that’s lying broken and battered in the garage – and give it to the kids to fix, fiddle with or create a sculpture or dream machine from. They could invent something totally new or find a creative use for that old lampshade.

Go green

Get outdoors and do something educational. Plant a vegetable garden, start a compost heap or build a bird feeder.

Limit TV

Sure, it’s the holidays, but don’t let them get into the habit of vegging out in front of the TV all day. Children love the visual stimulation but they can just as easily get that from playing outdoors, going for walks or reading a particularly imaginative book.

Get cultured

Museums, art galleries and exhibitions can be excellent classrooms. Do something different – go to Chinatown for lunch, or visit a craft market for a crash course in different cultures.

Learn about life

Borrow books from the library and make it a family goal to learn CPR, or volunteer together at a charity. Working and learning together really strengthens a family unit.

Act it out

Task your children with creating a play or skit. This involves picking a theme, making up dialogue for a few characters, making simple props, negotiating with the rest of the cast and acting it out.

Junior Jamie (Oliver)

Younger children will need to be guided on this one but older children can certainly be in charge of supper for one night. Allow them to come up with a simple menu and give them a budget for the shopping.

Smart art

Give your children the responsibility of making Christmas decorations or greeting cards. This activity charges their interest and imagination and drawing, cutting and sticking are excellent for practicing fine motor skills.

Teacher for a day

Older children will get a kick out of playing teacher for a day. Ask him to pick a subject to teach a younger sibling. This can involve patient explanation, preparing worksheets and even a simple test.

Board and card games

Children love playing games and never think of it as work, but their brains are being stimulated, they’re learning to think on the spot and developing their general knowledge.

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