# Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning Over the Holiday Break

Originally published on the Ridgewood Moms website

Holiday season is a festive time filled with relaxation, family dinners, and celebration. It’s also a time when many kids take a break from reading, writing, math, and essentially all school work. Yet holidays can also serve as an opportune time to remediate core academic skills – without the regular flow of homework – while still having fun and enjoying the festivities.

For kids who struggle with reading, holidays are a great time to work on foundational skills. ‎Young kids may have difficulty with consonant and short vowel letters and sounds, and how to blend those sounds together form words. During the holidays, build some reading work into baking! When making gingerbread cookies, for instance, spread out some flour or sugar onto a large cookie tray and ask your child to trace the letter p by saying “down, up, and around,” then say the sound /p/ like pizza. Likewise, she can trace a (“around, up, and down”) and say the sound /a/ like apple, or t (“down and across”) and say the sound /t/ like table. Then create separate flashcards with those letters on them (i.e. p, a, t) and use your spatula to show her how she can combine those sounds to form the word “pat.” Do the same type of blending exercises with different consonants and short vowels.

You can even roll out thin logs of cookie dough and have her form letters with the dough – then try to blend those sounds together to form words. The idea is to make the activities fun, holiday-like, and engaging. For more formal teaching, a tutor can use a structured multi-sensory approach using an organized lesson structure to work on foundational reading skills – including decoding, fluency, and comprehension.

Math

Many kids struggle to understand basic math concepts. What does it mean to add objects? Which number is bigger or smaller? ‎How many apples would I have left if I started with three and ate one? To help your child build core math skills, in the spirit of the holidays, purchase a bag of multi-color gumdrops. Start by making piles with different quantities of gumdrops, like a pile of 3 and a pile of 5, and ask your child which pile (and therefore number) is bigger. Then make piles of, say, 9 and 6 gumballs and ask which one is smaller, and so on.