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Should your child take a break from learning over a long winter holiday vacation?

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The last bell has rung and school is out.  Does learning stop? Holiday breaks are an enjoyable time filled with food, family, and fun.  In such a time of excitement it’s easy for your little one to forget the recent skills she learned in school.  In fact, research has found that students’ academic performance falls by about a month during summer vacation.  This phenomena is known as the “summer slide.”  When children don’t read or practice math, they don’t retain their school-year achievements.

Use these tips to help prevent the summer slide from kicking in over the long winter holiday break.  Just before the start of break, have a discussion with your child’s teacher to learn more about the lessons your child’s class is working on.  When you know what’s going on in the classroom, you can focus on certain skills you and your child would like to strengthen or retain over the holidays. 

To help keep your little one on track, follow these tips:

1. Fun Books, Healthy Brains 
At the beginning of your child’s school break, head to the library or bookstore.  Supply your child with plenty of choices throughout the holidays.  Consider your child’s interests when selecting reading materials – does she have a favorite animal or hobby?  Look for something that will excite him and increase his desire for reading.  Expose your child to an assortment of books like poetry, comic books, or picture novels.  Find books you can read aloud together, or something your child can read to you.  During travel, audiobooks are a perfect choice if the book is just above your little one’s reading level.

2. Play to Learn
Bring your family together for game night.  Games are a great way to spend time together over the holidays while teaching your child how fun learning can be.  Make lasting memories over games that involve counting, strategy, literacy, or guessing.  You can find games for all ages online, or turn to old fashion favorites like charades, chess, connect four or Scrabble®.

3. Cooking is for Kids
Enjoy quality time with your child during meal preparation.  Get your child involved in planning and cooking the holiday meal.  Children can help to prepare the grocery list, which helps them practice writing and spelling.  Baking is a great hands-on activity that teaches math, literacy, and scientific skills as well as fine motor skills.  Learning is fun when you are teaching your child how to read a recipe and measure ingredients. Show children the chemistry of baking as individual parts change texture and become one mixture.  Watch as their eyes fill with delight when eggs, flour, sugar, oil and milk magically transform into a delicious treat.

4. Get Out and Get Moving
Whether in your backyard or enjoying the city sights, family outings are great for physical activity and exploring new educational avenues.  Play T-ball with your child while teaching them to count bases, or count how many trees they see while going for a walk in the park.  How many animals can your child identify during a stroll through the zoo?  Talk about history while enjoying displays at a museum.  Many museums provide educational activities for children to enjoy while exploring different exhibits.

Regardless of whether you leave town for the holidays or stay home, your child has the ability to continue building on his learning over break with your help.  Make the most of the time by inspiring your child’s passions and helping him continue to learn through play!

Visit to learn more about child care and development and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system.  ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.

By ABC Quality Team on December 5, 2017