Here are some suggestions. I hope you find something that resonates or sparks an idea that will be just right for your family! (Thanks to Jenn Ward for some of these!)
Spend special, quality time with each child. It doesn’t matter what it is or how long you spend, just make sure each parent has meaningful, positive experiences with each child. Understandably, parents may need to work while children are on winter break, so time might be limited. That is OK, as it is the quality of time spent together rather than the quantity that is important.
Read, read, read! Encourage your child to read anything that they enjoy. Teachers will take care of ensuring they are engaged in “just right” books while they are at school. At home, over break, what is most important is that they keep reading. Comic books, magazines, books that are easy, instructional manuals, re-reading books, cookbooks- all are fair game! You can also have older children read aloud to younger children (and vice-versa!).
Do “everyday math.” Not the curriculum of course! Have children engage in real-life mathematical activities. Cooking is a great way to do this: measuring, estimating, dividing. You can have them help with home projects (measuring walls before painting, counting nails, etc.). When shopping, have your child tell you the amount of change you are due. Have young children count anything and everything (presents under the tree, forks for the table, chairs in the house…); older children can count by 2’s, 4’s, 10’s, etc.
Write for a purpose. Children can help write holiday letters, shopping lists, thank you notes, schedules of the day, wish lists, memos to family members, rules for the playroom, letters to service members who can’t come home.
Write creatively. Write a story about your family, create a new ending for your favorite picture book, write poetry, write a mystery or science fiction story.
Go outside. Even if the weather is cold and wintery, help your child get some fresh air and enjoy nature. Even a brief walk around the block has benefits! You could go on a nature scavenger hunt, go for a hike (the C & O Canal is basically flat; Sugarloaf Mountain is relatively easy to climb to get to a beautiful view; the Rock Creek Trail is paved and goes through the woods), bird watch, visit a nature center, go to a community playground, go to the zoo.
7. Get active. Jump rope, have a dance party, practice yoga, go for a walk, ride your bike, play chase, hula hoop, play basketball, roller blade, roller skate, swim.
8. Learn a new skill. Find out what new skill your child might like to learn, and if you have time, help them to learn it. Or, learn something new together! Some examples include: cooking, drawing, throwing a baseball, sewing, riding a bike, playing a new board game, playing an instrument, knitting.
9. Try a new experience. You could try a new cuisine, go to a new museum, work at a soup kitchen, take a hike, go for a bike ride on the C & O Canal, learn to ski (Round Top Mountain is close by), go snow tubing (also at Round Top), etc.
10. Do something at home together as a family. Look at old family photos, have a family game night, put a puzzle together, make puppets and put on a show, build with toothpicks and marshmallows, build a fort with blankets and chairs and read stories inside, make a gingerbread house, pop popcorn and watch a movie.
11. Visit the library. Go on a book scavenger hunt, attend a story-telling time, read magazines, identify a genre and investigate.
12. Help someone else. Ask if your neighbors need yard help, check with a local retirement home to see if there are opportunities to interact with residents, help at a soup kitchen, write letters or send care packages to service members, ask family members if they could use your services. Then talk with your child about the importance of service to others.
I’d love to hear other suggestions!
Here’s to an active, productive, restful, fun, engaging, and happy winter break!!