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Holiday Activities Keep Children Learning

The Learning Advisor

Q: As the holidays draw closer, I’m looking for suggestions on how to fit in some meaningful family time. It’s always so hectic and everyone gets frazzled and cranky.

A: Holidays can mean more than big meals, watching mindless TV and buying presents. Get all family members together and plan activities that will fit in with your budget, your schedule — and your strength. Having a happy, but scaled down, holiday is much more important to your children than planning an extravaganza where everyone is frazzled and crabby.

Children need rituals. Each family has special holiday traditions and children love to learn the reasons behind these traditions. Help them see that the things your family does at the holiday season are part of an old tradition. Or, establish new family traditions. Perhaps you’d like to have a family skating party. Get a family membership to a museum. Plan a visit to enjoy a special exhibit.

Help your children focus on someone other than themselves so it’s not just the season of the “I wants.” Insist that your family take part in some activity that will help those less fortunate. There are many people who will have no holiday dinners this year. Learn more about people with no homes. Are there hungry people in your community? How can your family help?

Holidays also offer a great opportunity to promote learning — even during this hectic time of year. This is a great chance to include reading and writing in the fun. Here are some ideas:

Ask a younger child to help you make your holiday shopping lists. Talk about the letters and words you write.

Help your young child make his own holiday cards. After he decorates the front, decide together what the greeting should say.

Take a youngster along as you shop for different gifts. Point out the words on the packaging that tell about each item you buy.

Set aside some time for reading every day. A short quiet break will do more than help build your kids’ reading skills. It will also help everyone enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet — together.

Encourage your children to write. Ask them to write a letter, a poem, or a short story about this time of year.

Watch a special television program together. Then read a book that relates to what you saw. You might watch the ballet of “The Nutcracker,” and read the book.

Spend extra time with your children. Bake cookies. Children of all ages can help. Take a drive to look at decorative lights. Or take a walk and look at the stars. Enjoy the time you spend with your child this holiday season. The most important gift you give this year may be the memories you create of a happy time spent together.

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question to The Learning Advisor, go to http:// advisor. parent-institute.com and receive a prompt answer by e-mail. Copyright © 2005, The Parent Institute.

The Learning Advisor will appear on the Family Page in the Daily Journal on Dec. 28.

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