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Avoid winter break learning loss

Kids can forget a lot of what they learned in the previous semester over the winter break. Here’s how to keep your kids learning:

• Visit a library. Find some books with topics that interest your child so that they are constantly engaged in reading.

• Visit museums, zoos and historical sites. Help your child learn about history and the world they live in.

• Enroll in winter tutoring programs. For children that are struggling academically, holiday breaks can be the perfect time to address it with a customized tutoring program.

Spending a little time each day on reading, writing and math activities can go a long way in preventing the dreaded winter break learning loss. Here are 10 suggestions to encourage your child to write in a fun and creative way that won’t be perceived as work:

1. Joke/Tongue Twister/Riddle Diary: Record several each day to share in the car.

2. Jigsaw Letter: Using a picture on one side and a letter on the other; cut into pieces and mail to grandparents. It’s even better if grandparents reciprocate.

3. Menu Planning: Plan your meal, write out recipes, ingredients/groceries, and send out invitations to family and friends. Ask your guests to write a review of your fine cuisine and make sure to write a review of Mom and Dad’s next creation.

4. “Character” Emails: Invent a fun character with some quirky habits – Gizmo Goat, Brainy Bunny, Tattletale Tiger. Write emails/notes to family and friends and sign off as your quirky character.

5. Partner Stories: Write the first sentence or paragraph of a story idea, then ask a parent to write the next section. Take turns coming up with fun twists to the storyline. Try and throw some obstacles into each other’s paths to keep the story going as long as possible.

6. Scavenger Hunts: Plan and write clues for a scavenger hunt.

7. 20 Questions: Think of a famous person. The person guessing writes out each yes/no question to a maximum of 20. This can be done via email or notes.

8. Musical Performance: Write new words for your favourite song and perform for your family.

9. Trip Diary: Keep a trip diary with labeled pictures of your vacation.

10. Comic Book: Turn your family into cartoon characters.

These are just some of the many ways to enjoy writing with your child over the winter break. It’s a great time to be imaginative and create some lasting memories.

The Nielsen Company recently released a study that shows kids ages 2 to 5 watch more than 32 hours of TV each week, which is nearly five hours a day. Here are a few ideas on how to get kids away from the TV during the holidays:

a. You can play mental educational games that involve memory like mental math and I Spy

b. Take them out and about on trips that are educational and fun such as the local museum or zoo

c. Participate in activities with them that have a physical element like swimming or skiing and create games that challenge them to use math when scoring their physical performance

d. Take the TV away and replace it with interaction by playing the games they want to play. The key is being present and listening when your child wants to play.  Listen to your child. For instance, when your 5 year old gets out of school and suggests going to the park, go to the park.  They may want you to take them to the park and chase them and play with them. Don’t just take them to the park and let them play and get on your iPhone.

If possible, go to school and talk to your child’s teacher before the end of classes. Ask the teacher what skills your children could benefit from practicing over winter break, and find out what books might they read now that could keep them sharp and help them prepare for next year.

Frank Guzzo is the owner of Tutor Doctor of North York, an in-home, one-on-one, private tutoring service. Call 647-998-8872 or visit www.tutordoctor.com