Winter break? Perfect time to keep your children learning

December 22 through January 2 is winter break for San Francisco’s public schools, which gives students and teachers a chance to celebrate the holidays with families and get some rest before starting 2015 and a new semester.

But taking a break from the classroom doesn’t necessarily mean the learning stops. In fact, the change in routine can reinforce what students have been studying in school. The time off is the perfect chance to show your children how what they learn in school relates to the everyday world around us.

Sneak in some reading

Are you planning to see some movies during the break? Before heading to the theater, have your children read a review of the movie and ask them to write a review afterward. If you’re more outdoorsy and like to take advantage of our warm winter days here in Northern California, take time to read a map or online guide books before taking heading to the park together.

Leave things around

At home, have newspapers, catalogs and books on the table to spark your children’s interest. Children are naturally curious and will choose good reading material if it’s available.

Do math on Muni

If you’re on Muni, you can have your children count the number of people on the bus, then the number of people holding cell phones. Ask them what percentage of people on the bus are holding cell phones. Or, at the grocery store, head to the bulk foods aisle and ask your children to put a favorite item in a bag, weigh the bag, then figure out how much it will cost based on the price per pound – the suspense at the checkout counter might make the trip more interesting. If you’re in the car for a long trip, you can tell them the speed you are driving and the distance to the next rest stop, then together you can figure out how many minutes it will take to get there.

Set off a spark with a story

This time of year is a natural time to tell family stories. Perhaps relatives will be visiting or calling to say hello, and childhood memories are part of the conversation. Share fun stories from your own childhood. Perhaps talking about a favorite teacher of yours when you were young will spark a conversation about your children’s teachers or special staff members at school. Talking about what they like about school can help the transition back to the classroom in January.

Most importantly, remember that you are your children’s first teacher. Taking time to do a quick math problem just for fun, finding something interesting to read, and talking about school shows them that their education—inside and outside the classroom—is important to you.

Everyone have a safe and happy holiday season!