Keeping kids focused amid holiday distractions

December 6, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

Kids had barely wriggled out of their pirate and princess costumes Halloween night before the winter holiday blitz began.

Radio stations launched into 24-hour loops of Christmas music; holiday lights and garlands were suddenly draped across supermarket aisles; and herds of animatronic and inflatable figures began to appear on neighborhood lawns.

And the holiday drumbeat will soon be amplified in schools, by winter concerts, holiday fund drives, the principal’s Grinch necktie and more.

Only a regiment of wooden soldiers could ignore so much visual and auditory stimuli.

Help keep children engaged with their schoolwork – even when their eyes are all aglow – with the following tips:

  • Maintain established routines. Since the first school bell pealed in September, your child’s days have followed a certain structure. Don’t monkey with it now. Encourage your student to go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day, and keep the same homework routine as before.
  • Reading is fundamental – and festive. Head to the library and check out a handful of holiday favorites – from Dickens to Dr. Seuss – to read with your child. Or let your children read the ingredients from holiday recipes as they help you prepare them.
  • Encourage your student to keep a holiday journal. Don’t let your children’s only holiday writing projects be their wish list of gifts. A holiday journal provides not only a productive way to count down to the winter break, but a fun pastime for when school is out.
  • Parlay holiday excitement into education opportunities. Why not use the season as a reason to learn more about the history of certain holidays and how they’re celebrated by different cultures around the globe.
  • Put your elves to work. If the excitement of the holidays has given your brood more energy than they (and you!) can handle, assign special jobs to them. How about a holiday craft, like cutting out paper snowflakes or stringing popcorn for a garland? Maybe have them take charge of putting colored candles in the menorah. If you’re expecting company, ask them to help deck the halls or straighten up. And don’t forget to offer praise for a job well done.
  • Try walking (in a winter wonderland). Burn off some of that surplus energy with a brisk stroll around the neighborhood or to the local playground. If Mother Nature cooperates, build a snowman.
  • Nurture your child’s inner Al Roker. Make the most of a snow day by helping your child learn about the weather patterns that created it. Nurture his inner meteorologist by digging into some of the weather resources for kids available online in the “Earth Sciences” section of the Federal Resources for Educational Excellence website.

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