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Students Encouraged to Keep Learning During Holiday Breaks

Dorothy Rowley | 12/23/2013, 12:17 p.m.
D.C. public schools officials encourage parents to engage in activities such as reading during the holidays to boost their learning when school reopens.

Studies have shown that when students are on long breaks from school, they tend to become lax with the knowledge and skills they've developed during the year.

To that end, educators believe that getting students involved in learning activities during the holiday season will help prepare them to return to school with sharp minds and ready to resume their studies.

"I've had the experience that when students went on winter break, when they came back to school and I'd tried to review their lessons with them, they'd go, 'oh, really?', as if they'd forgotten," said Christine Easterling, a retired District public schools teacher and administrator.

On the other hand, Easterling said students will retain what they deemed as fun lessons.

"It's true that students can forget what they learned in school prior to the holiday vacation, because the brain stores and retrieves information," she said. "Sometimes when students take in too much it can really get lost, so I taught my students to go over their lessons at home during the holidays so that they could continue to be more engaged when it was time to return to the classroom."

Most students in the D.C. area are on holiday break through Monday, Jan. 6, and to help them keep up with their studies, here are some tips from the District of Columbia Public Schools system that will help parents reinforce skills and concepts students have recently learned:

• Your children should be reading at least 30 minutes every day. Read to your child, read with your child, or encourage him/her to read independently.

• If your child uses an online math program at school, hop on a computer at home or at the public library to log in and practice over break. Challenge him/her to set a new high score!

If your child is in pre-kindergarten:

• Make a batch of play dough with your child for hours of fun and learning. Practice following directions, measuring, taking turns and making shapes. Click here for the recipe.

• Take a walk around your neighborhood and practice counting and recognizing letters of the alphabet. Count the number of steps from your door to the street or name all the letters on a street sign.

If your child is in middle school:

• Encourage your child to find an article about one of his/her interests (e.g., sports, music or fashion). Newspapers are a good place to find stories on a variety of topics and some — including The Washington Informer — are available free at Metro stations and bus stops. Ask your child to summarize the article for you.

• Bring math skills from the classroom into the real world. Compare discount coupons or sales. Ask, "do you think this is a good deal? How much money are you actually saving?" Here is a helpful guide for this game.

If your child is in high school:

• Help your child search the Internet for a review of the book he/she is reading. Ask if their point of view differs from the author of the review and why they agree or disagree.

• Watch, listen to or read the news with your child. Ask, "If you were going to post on Facebook or tweet about this story, what would you say?"