Pointers for Parents are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.
Spring Break. Those two words just have a lilt to them, don’t they? They roll off the tongue in kind of a bubbly, sing song voice. They are the two words every parent, teacher, and child can agree on. The giddiness that floods the heart when they are heard, or even thought about, is uncontainable. Of all the breaks in the school year, Spring Break is probably the most anticipated of all of them. No feast to cook for the relatives. No gifts to buy. Nothing but rest. Whether you are going on a vacation to a tropical place or staying home, it is a week of time just to be together with family. The pep in your step just from the anticipation of sleeping in is visible to all with whom you come into contact. The smile on your face is contagious because of the freedom that is coming your way. Freedom from homework assignments. Freedom from lessons. Freedom from schedules. Freedom from extra-curricular activities. Freedom from practices, games, and rehearsals. Freedom to picnic or camp. To hike or shop. To swim, or ski. It is a holiday for fun.
I am aware that not every parent gets to join in the fun. Some still have to work, and there are kids who go to daycare for the week, or grandma’s house. There are some parents who have to juggle more because of the break. For others sleeping in is still only a dream. However, the freedom is still real. No coming home to fight over homework. No calendar of events to keep. Mostly, you get to see your kids in a relaxed state, and in these days of cram packed schedules it is a joy to see them simply play.
The only shadow that falls over this blissful week is the coming of the most hated week of the school year. Testing week. At the end of this fabulous holiday is a week or two of reviewing every standard taught throughout the year, and a few that haven’t been taught yet. It is the time when parents, teachers, and kids ratchet up the anxiety that Spring Break all but removed. The regression and forgetfulness that happen in one week are shocking. This creates panic as students return with blank stares in classrooms across the country. Here are a couple of simple suggestions to prevent a total loss over the break.
- Read with your kids. I don’t mean crack the whip and force it, just take books to the beach for FUN. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable, what better way to make it so than finding a good book and reading together. No pressure of writing a response. No test to prepare for. No analysis to do. Just read.
- Practice real world math. Include kids in on the economics of your vacation. Let them calculate the cost of food. Have them decide what activities are the most economical. Let them see why you are not able to go on an exotic trip, or show them the reasons you are. Money management is a real thing. It has to be done so why not take this as an opportunity to show them how.
- Go to a museum. There are museums of every kind in nearly every city. Find one where you are and go to it. Read the displays for reading practice. (Shhhh, don’t tell them that is what they are doing.) Look at exhibits for science, social studies, or art information. Even if you don’t go on a trip, there are local exhibits to see and usually the admission price is pretty reasonable at museums. Interact with others and each other. It is fun.
- Go to an aquarium. They are a bit more expensive than museums, but the connections kids make with the sea creatures are worth it. There’s more reading and the shows they offer share what is involved in keeping, caring for, and training the animals. It is entertaining for the whole family.
- Go for a hike. Parks are cheaper than most other kinds of activities. They have interpretive trails which come with paper guides that explain each station. (More reading.) Learning about the habitats of animals and environments gets in some interesting science, and hiking is good for the body. Win-win.
- Go shopping. Shopping is another chance to practice economics. Give your child a set amount and help them manage it. Whether you are buying souvenirs or school clothes, shopping is an opportunity for them to see where your hard earned money goes and to learn that you don’t get everything you want. Decisions must be made and priorities set. Life skills come in the form of a trip through a store.
You get the idea. Spring Break is supposed to be fun and acquiring knowledge can be embedded into your holiday if you are intentional. If you do it right, they will never even know they are learning.