How to Make Winter Break Productive

In classrooms across the country you can feel the excitement building as kids count down the days til winter break. Holidays! Presents! Snow! Homework!

Wait…homework? Before you dismiss the thought of holiday homework as a total downer, stay with me. Every school schedule is different of course, but for many, the end of winter break means the beginning of the mid-year crunch. So don’t let the winter break become a break in their momentum. Here are seven low-key ways to keep progress up while still enjoying down time.

  1. winter breakDo a quick assessment. Encourage your child to take a look at online grades and figure out if there’s anything they should discuss with their teachers prior to the winter break. There might be an opportunity to earn some extra credit to make sure that their grades are where they want them to be.
  2. Make a to-do list. Review the syllabus for each class and figure out what is due after the break. Whether it’s a book report, project or an upcoming final exam. Break each of those down into smaller parts and see what can be done over the winter break.
  3. Chip away. Small steps equal real progress. Maybe avoid a deep dive into English Lit reading, but have your child focus on outlining their final essay. Making a little effort toward progress will mean a lot when they sit down to finish an assignment. Opening up the document to see an outline, rather than a blank page, might just be the boost they need to get the assignment completed.
  4. Create study guides. Another low-key activity is to create some study guides and notes. Fire up the holiday music and have your child spend an hour organizing their notes, creating online quizzes or flagging important pages in a text. It’s an activity that doesn’t require a ton of brainpower but will really contribute to a prepared feeling come final exam time.
  5. Read some nonfiction. Experts agree – there’s pretty much nothing better to improve writing, spelling and overall reading comprehension than, well, reading. And reading nonfiction texts boosts the benefits even more to help meet the new Common Core reading standards. Nonfiction doesn’t have to be a drag – we like to say that truth is stranger than fiction, and we promise there’s something to pique your kid’s interest no matter what they’re interested in!
  6. Update your college resume. This is basically a “brag sheet” that captures the details of your child’s achievements and activities throughout high school. Have them track details of highlights of their academic and extracurricular successes this semester, whether it was chairing the fundraiser for the band, or extra kudos from a teacher when you mastered a tough concept. This running achievement log will help when it’s time to work on your college recommendations, essay and applications.
  7. Get some help. Got a procrastinator? Sometimes having an “outside third party” involved can help them focus for an hour or so. Remind them that every hour spent now is an hour they don’t have to spend during crunch time!

The main goal is to keep work over holiday break low-key and easy. Everyone needs a breather, and winter break should be just that. So, schedule in a little work – they’ll appreciate it come January – and then reward them with some family fun!


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