Focus on family time during the holiday bustle

(State­Point) — The hol­i­days are a time for fam­ily and friends, new tra­di­tions and old. And many par­ents may look for­ward to the school break as a time to bond with their chil­dren. 

It’s also im­port­ant that chil­dren en­gage in some edu­ca­tion­al activ­it­ies over the hol­i­days, es­pe­cially those that con­tin­ue to de­vel­op read­ing and math skills. 

“Take ad­vant­age of the break from your reg­u­lar routines to show your chil­dren how learn­ing is an every­day activ­ity,” says Emily Kirk­patrick, vice pres­id­ent of Na­tion­al Cen­ter for Fam­ily Lit­er­acy (NCFL). “The days lead­ing up to the hol­i­days are an ex­cit­ing time, and many chil­dren are thrilled to do something new.” 

Wheth­er you’re a par­ent, grand­par­ent, aunt or uncle, here are some fun hol­i­day activ­it­ies to do with kids: 

Read Hol­i­day Stor­ies: In the weeks be­fore the hol­i­days, gath­er your fam­ily’s fa­vor­ite hol­i­day books and read one story or chapter to­geth­er nightly. Have chil­dren par­ti­cip­ate in fol­low­ing along, turn­ing pages and by ask­ing them ques­tions about the story. Read­ing the char­ac­ters in funny voices and act­ing out the stor­ies can help even the biggest Grinch warm to read­ing. 

Learn Fun Facts: Do you know why all snow­flakes are dif­fer­ent? Or why we make New Year’s res­ol­u­tions? If you don’t, find­ing out the an­swers can be fun with your child. Edu­ca­tion­al web­sites like Won­deropol­, cre­ated by the NCFL, lets par­ents and chil­dren ex­plore short videos that ex­plain the an­swers to many trivia ques­tions — in­clud­ing why people kiss un­der mistle­toe! 

Make Hol­i­day Cards: Have kids make a list of re­cip­i­ents. Then help them write hol­i­day mes­sages and dec­or­ate hol­i­day cards be­fore mail­ing them. If kids are too little to write a mes­sage, have them help you cre­ate one and then sign their names or add draw­ings. Grand­par­ents will ap­pre­ci­ate these more than store-bought cards. 

Vo­lun­teer To­geth­er: Wheth­er it’s in your loc­al soup kit­chen or hos­pit­al, the hol­i­days are a great time to teach kids about the im­port­ance of vo­lun­teer­ing and spread­ing joy. If you think it might be dif­fi­cult for your fam­ily to spend a day with strangers, con­sider bak­ing cook­ies or a cake for an eld­erly neigh­bor or re­l­at­ive. Have kids read re­cipes, meas­ure in­gredi­ents and keep things or­gan­ized. This helps de­vel­op read­ing, count­ing and or­gan­iz­a­tion­al skills while shar­ing. 

Track Santa: Not all tra­di­tions have to be tra­di­tion­al. If your chil­dren feel more com­fort­able in front of a com­puter than in the kit­chen, use that to your ad­vant­age when con­sid­er­ing new fam­ily hol­i­day activ­it­ies. For ex­ample, start­ing each Decem­ber, the North Amer­ic­an Aerospace De­fense Com­mand (NORAD) “tracks” Santa’s move­ments at Chil­dren and adults alike are sure to get a kick out of it. ••

For more ideas for fun activ­it­ies for kids, vis­it www.won­deropol­ 

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