Five Tips for Parents to Keep Their Children Sharp During the Break


It is the third week in December and that means we are quickly approaching winter break. Winter break means a well-deserved escape from homework and daily obligations of school; students cannot wait.  It means no more waking up early to catch the bus and no more being cut off early from video games at night.

Parents, your children are ready, but the question is are you ready for the winter break? You will blink and the holidays will be over and it will be back to trying to wake your child up to make it to the bus stop on time. I would like to offer these five tips before break to ensure a smooth transition and a successful second semester.  

Tip #1: Make Sure Your Child Reads.

Winter Break doesn’t necessarily mean students shouldn’t be reading. Winter break is a good time for students to read for pleasure. Pleasure reading can be just as fundamental as reading to learn. Parents you can introduce your children to some of your favorite stories  from when you were a child. Showing them you enjoy reading will encourage them and foster a love for reading in them as well.

Tip #2: Make Car Rides Educational.

Just like Thanksgiving, many families travel during the holidays. While making that long drive to Grandma’s house, make sure the car ride is educational. As you pass different signs, quiz your child on the shapes you pass. Create games for your child to play. You could also quiz them on the states. Math games are always fun on a long car ride as well. Do not let your child just sit in the back and listen to music the entire trip or play on a cell phone.

Tip #3: Ask the Teacher for Educational Online Websites.

You know your child is going to be spending a lot of time on the computer. Make sure you ask for websites from your child’s teacher so the time is also spent on educational websites. Students can still have fun and learn with websites such as: Moby Max, Read Theory or Khan Academy. These are just some of the educational websites used in schools that can also be accessed at home for free.

Tip #4: Incorporate Learning in Family Activities.

During the holiday time, as you are cooking dinner, invite your child into the kitchen with you. A child can learn so much from cooking a meal. It can be something as simple as baking cookies; you will tackle both science and math with this activity. Another way to incorporate learning is playing a family game. A family game of Pictionary or Charades can keep a child’s brain sharp throughout the winter break.

Tip #5: Maintain a Reasonable Bedtime. 

Students will be out of school for two weeks and in their mind that means they can stay up late every night and wake up at noon. It might be tempting to allow your child to become a night owl, but more harm will be done if your child stays off his or her bedtime routine for too long. My suggestion is allow them a few days to enjoy their break, but make sure you get them back into their routine quickly.

Before you know it, the new year will be here. A new year means a new semester. You do not want your child to experience the winter slide especially since the second semester of the school year means it's time for state assessments in Indiana. Your child should still enjoy a well needed break from school, but please keep his or her mind sharp!



David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.