The holiday season is fast approaching which means two things: You need to get to your shopping and the kids will be anxiously anticipating time off from school. There’s a lot of excitement during this time of the year and it can sometimes make it hard for students to stay focused and engaged. However, don’t worry too much. While we can’t help you with your holiday shopping, we can certainly help with the kids. Maintaining critical thinking skills can be key, so we’ve put together some simple strategies for keeping kids learning during the holidays.
Focusing on your child’s critical thinking abilities prior to adolescence is extremely important. The process of critical thinking is mainly about evaluating situations and information in a rational and effective manner. It involves independent thinking, being open-minded, and the ability to find multiple approaches and solutions to a problem.
The crucial aspect of all this: kids need to feel like it’s fun, gratifying, and that they want to do it. You’ll need to get them excited about utilizing their critical thinking skills as much as possible, including when they’re not actually in school. This is where our recommended activities come in.
Unless your child is an avid reader, it may be difficult to get them to work on their reading comprehension skills during the holiday break. Fortunately, there are some pretty easy ways to keep them sharp.
If you’re dusting off those holiday cookbooks, ask your child to help you with cooking. Work through the recipes together and maybe even ask them to figure out how to substitute one of the ingredients with something else. Additionally, both during and after the cooking process, have your child use those critical thinking skills by asking them to talk about what their senses are telling them. Have them describe what they’re smelling, seeing, and tasting.
This can go beyond sitting and reading a book together. For example, as you’re driving to holiday gatherings, listen to an audiobook and periodically ask your child questions about the story. As an example, what are the characters doing and what do the actions say about the characters’ personality and goals? In addition, if you’re heading to the store to pick up gifts or other holiday goodies, take your child with you and have them go through the shopping list and help you find what is needed.
Another way to have your child utilize their critical thinking skills is by having them assist with writing personalized holiday card notes. Moreover, once the holidays have passed, ask them to also help with writing thank you messages for the gifts they received. Guide them through various descriptive words they might want to use to convey their feelings about specific presents.
Of course, there are supplemental education programs that provide math help for kids, but you can also work in some exercises when you’re doing some typical holiday chores and activities.
It’s very easy to incorporate math lessons into any cooking activity, but baking is great for introducing the concept of fractions. For example, if you’re making some holiday Rice Krispies Treats, you can not only have your child help you measure out the ingredients, but also you can ask them to help you cut the Treats into specific portions (i.e. starting with half, down to one quarter, and so on.) They’ll be using critical thinking skills without even knowing it.
Are there gifts that your child desires or wants to buy others? Ask them to figure out how much money they would need to buy the items. Will they have a stocking filled with candy? Talk about what portions of the take are chocolate or hard candies.
No matter what holiday you’re celebrating, there’s a good lesson that can be applied. For instance, your child can figure out how many gifts are given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, calculate how many candles are used during the nights of Hanukkah, or discuss the principles of Kwanzaa and match each to the correct day on the calendar.
Best in Class Education Center can help your child strengthen their critical thinking skills all year long. We have programs for kids of all ages that make use of highly effective math and reading comprehension exercises.
If your child is between the ages of three and five, we have a Beginners in Class program that encourages them to learn the skills and foundation necessary to be successful in kindergarten. For older children, we offer enrichment classes, test preparation, summer camps, and a whole host of other educational programs. We even offer SAT/ACT and college prep classes for high schoolers.
There are many reasons why Best in Class students succeed in school: