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How Parents Can Keep Their Middle School Students Academically Challenged During Winter Break

December 23, 2015

Winter break is a great chance for middle school students to relax, catch up on sleep, and spend time with family. Although parents don’t need to be academic drill sergeants during the break, there are several ways they can ensure their children are still learning and keeping key academic skills fresh while also enjoying their time off.

Here are a few projects or activities parents can do with their middle school children to keep their brains sharp during the break.

  1. Trace your family history. The holiday season and winter break is a great time to spend time with family and to learn about your family. Scour the Internet to trace your family genealogy and create a family tree together. This list of websites will get you started.
  2. Create a family cookbook. Have family members choose several of their favorite recipes. Pick a few to cook together and take photographs of the final products to add visuals to the book. Print the books and give them as gifts to extended family or friends.
  3. Take a virtual field trip. It may not be possible for most families to trek across the globe during the winter break, but that doesn’t mean children can’t learn about the White House, French museums, or the Great Wall of China. Take a virtual tour from the comforts of your own home.
  4. Take a field trip in your own town. Visit a local historical site and learn about it together as a family. Talk about what life was like during the era when the site was built and how things like communication, travel, and food preparation were different then.
  5. Take family game night to the next level. Plan a family game show night using your favorite trivia or word games. Assign each family member a role, such as host, contestant, or judge, and play for points or money.
  6. Let them write creatively. Parents can challenge their children each day to write a paragraph or short story about a favorite holiday memory or activity, or offer them fun prompts to choose from, such as “If I were a snowman for a day, I would…” and “Your class gets snowed in at school. What do you do?”
  7. Let them write for others. Make cards or letters for military personnel overseas or senior citizens in a local nursing home. Children will get to practice their spelling and handwriting skills while also brightening someone else’s holiday season.
  8. Read a challenging book together or separately. If students and parents read the book separately, commit to reading at least a chapter or two each day and discuss what happened over dinner or before bedtime. Talk about favorite characters, meaningful dialogue, and exciting plot points.
  9. See how it works. Does mint really cool things down? Do plants need water to grow or will any liquid work? Does music affect your mood? Pick a few of these fun and easy science experiments to try together.
  10. Don’t forget the math. Parents can find ways to utilize their children’s math skills in everyday tasks. Ask them to help calculate the tip after a meal in a restaurant or the ingredient quantities needed for a recipe you are doubling or cutting in half.
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