Regardless as to how you feel about it, the countdown to the holiday season has begun. Creeping up quickly behind that is a brand new year. Chances are, you haven’t thought about any concrete changes you would like to see realized, but actually, there is no better time to reflect on the past year. And to help keep the next year going smoothly for your children, there are things you can do over the holiday break to keep them sharp and ready for the new year.
- Keep your child reading over the break. Whether you read to them or they do it on their own, set aside some time just for books. Try to have “just right” material on hand for them –not too hard, not to easy. If you guess wrong, no worries; you read a part aloud and they can read a part aloud. They can read things other than books: cereal boxes, the directions for making their favorite snack, Google things that they might be interested in – crafts, directions to a place they want to visit, etc. Reading is Fundamental has some great tips.
- Cut back on TV, video games and computer time. There are countless studies showing that too much use of these devices (rather than free play) can add to learning struggles, behavior issues, sleep and attention problems, weight gain and depression. Also, keep an eye on what they’re watching!
- Get them playing music. Encourage your child to learn an instrument. This could be through lessons, video instruction or even a self-taught booklet. There is a strong correlation between music and grades; not surprising since music enhances language learning and spatial reasoning among other things. You can read more about the correlation between “arts and smarts” here.
- Try teaching them another language. If you don’t know one, find a class on the computer or get a book or video from the library and learn together. Learning another language strengthens major brain skills like executive control, increases multi-tasking skills and can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.
- Set up a learning station. How many times has your child procrastinated on homework by searching for sharpened pencils? Or struggled finding a space on a cluttered dining room table to do their take-home quiz? Find a quiet space away from distractions and set up a fully stocked desk: pencils, dictionary, calculator, etc.
- Increase their brain food. You know that soda and candy are bad for your child’s brain, but did you know there are foods that can actually strengthen their brain? Among the best: wild salmon, walnuts, and blueberries, to name a few.
- Realistically evaluate the first part of the year. If things have gone well, carry on! If your child struggled in the classroom, consider getting your child’s brain skills tested. Cognitive skills training centers usually offer low-cost tests to measure and evaluate skills like attention, visual and auditory processing, logic and reasoning, processing speed and memory. If any weaknesses are found, the skills can be strengthened with one-on-one brain training. Unlike tutoring, which focuses on academics, brain training addresses the root causes of any learning struggles. If you improve learning skills, you improve grades and confidence. In fact, LearningRx, West Des Moines and Ankeny, are offering a 50% savings on their cognitive skills testing for the month of December. Additionally, any program booked in December will receive a 10% discounted price. Call us at 515-224-4819 for more information. There is NO reason for anyone to continue to struggle with academics!