Parents can help their kids keep their minds engaged over the two-week winter break by adding some learning to the fun.
While there is not as much loss of learning as during the summer slide, any vacation can set kids back unless their minds stay engaged.
“Just as with any muscle, the brain’s prone to atrophy if we don’t use it,” said Amy Davis, elementary assistant principal with Colorado Connections Academy @ Durango, the online school associated with Durango School District 9-R that began offering classes this fall. “A central key is to get kids to connect with any type of learning and instilling a growth mindset that learning is a natural part of every day.”
She recommends several activities parents can incorporate throughout the holiday:
Make a calendar with a fun activity each day of the break.Explore the science of weather – have students measure the snow totals, monitor temperatures and compare the weather forecast to what actually happens at home.Bake or cook, learning about fractions and measuring while making something delicious. Look up the difference between baking powder and baking soda. Follow up by reading about yeast and learning how some types of dough can conduct electricity.Put up a bird feeder – if the bears are no longer active – and get a bird guide from the library to learn more about the birds you observe. Jan. 5 is National Bird Day.Look for authors who specialize in winter themes or a book set in winter. Then have children write their own winter-themed stories.Work on an art project incorporating snowflakes and snow themes.Laura Galido, director of human resources for District 9-R, said there are other opportunities for growth that families can use.
“Have your child check out additional reading materials prior to the break,” she said. “Some 9-R schools have online programs that parents can access at home.”
A visit to the Powerhouse Science Center might also inspire some activities, she said.
“The public libraries are always a good option during breaks,” Galido said.
Using the libraries will require some planning ahead. The Durango Public Library branches at Sunnyside and Fort Lewis Mesa elementary schools will be closed during the winter break, and the main library in town will be closed Dec. 23-26 and Jan. 2.
The Pine River Library in Bayfield will hold Teen Time! from Dec. 19 to Dec. 23 and again Dec. 27-28, and will be closed Dec. 24-26. The Ignacio Community Library is continuing to offer MakerSpace Wednesdays and will screen “The Secret Life of Pets” on Dec. 22.
“Students tend to lose learning over breaks, so we need to look at them as an opportunity to expand learning in nontraditional ways,” Davis said. “It’s a chance to expand the anchoring of what learning is.”