Winters holidays are the perfect time for children and parents to spend more time together. This period of the year has an additional festive note, because of Christmas and New Year. Parents should try and use this period of the year to get a deeper insight into their children’s thoughts and preferences. It’s a great opportunity to improve your children’s self-esteem and their understanding of words and other concepts. In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to show you how to boost your children’s literacy during winter holidays. These strategies will yield the best results when applied to the children aged 5-10.
1) Reading stories in the morning
Everybody knows that reading bedtime stories to kids has numerous benefits. From reducing the level of adrenaline and relieving the stress to cognitive and verbal benefits, every bedtime story you read to your kid will have a positive effect on their mind. Since reading, in general, activates dozens of different parts of a child’s brain, you can use the free time during the winter break and introduce morning reading sessions. Evening readings bear an important cognitive note, but they also soothe kids and help them fall asleep. Those morning sessions will be aimed only at sparking their imagination.You can choose the books and stories in advance and tell your kid that they’re going to hear a new story every morning.
So, sit down with your kid(s) after breakfast and read them a story. They can also grab a piece of paper and a set of crayons and draw their vision of the story. Additionally, they can also write a few lines about the story, in addition to the drawing. By doing so, you’ll engage several different parts of their brain to work together, which is extremely important for creating cognitive associations.
2) Turning letters into pictures
Some children struggle to learn the letters of the alphabet. If this problem persists for a longer period of time, it could affect their self-confidence. That’s why parents should help them master the alphabet through some engaging activities. One of the easiest and most amusing ways to learn how to write the letters of the alphabet is to turn letters into animals. For instance, for the letter A you’re going to elicit them to draw an alligator. The letter F can be turned into a fox and the letter G into a gorilla.
Since your kid might not be familiar with all the animals you’ll come up with for those letters, you should keep an encyclopedia at the reach of your hand. It will help your child both learn the alphabet and extend their knowledge of animals. If you don’t have a printed encyclopedia of animals, you can use the Encyclopedia of Life for this purpose.
Parents can also go the extra mile and connect winter holidays and the alphabet, as well. That way, the letter S can be transformed into Santa Clause or a snowman. Bells will be a great example of the letter B and the Christmas tree will comprehend both C and T. Encourage your kid to think about other winter terms and brainstorm as many associations as possible.
3) Analyze Christmas movies together
Many children aged 5 already have their favourite movies, cartoons and other types of TV-program. Since TV-stations broadcast loads of Christmas movies in the winter season, it’s a perfect opportunity for children and parents to share their tastes.
If you’re watching Frozen for the Xth time, you can pause the movie from time to time and ask your kid what’s going to happen next. That will encourage them to activate their brain and improve their memory skills. Similarly, when you’re watching a movie that your child has never seen before, you should analyze what you’ve seen several times during the movie.
While stopping a movie you’re watching on TV is often impossible, you can use commercial breaks to talk about the previous and following scenes in the movie. Plus, your kid will be less exposed to commercials, which is another benefit. Also, encourage your kid to turn their impressions of the movie they’ve just seen into drawings. Again, they can write a few lines about the movie.
Alternatively, you can also switch the roles for the bedtime story. The kid will be telling you the story of one of the movies you watched together and you’ll be an avid listener.
4) Sing Christmas songs
You might wonder how Christmas songs can improve literacy. Well, they can’t if they’re just sung along, without too much thinking.
But take for example the lines from Jingle Bells: “Bells on bobtail ring / Making spirits bright / What fun it is to ride and sing / A sleighing song tonight”. First, you need to explain to your kids what a bobtail is – a clipped tail. This is already a new concept for them. Now you can connect the bobtail with the letter B.
The last two lines given in this example can be practised as a tongue twister. And then the song bursts into the well-known, joyful chorus “Jingle bells, jingle bells…”.
You can apply the same pattern to a variety of Christmas songs.
By getting deeper into the lexical meaning of Christmas songs, you’ll trigger your kids’ imagination and they’re going to sing these songs with more understanding.
5) Encourage socialisation
You should spend as much time as possible with your kids during the winter holidays. Still, you should also find some time for yourself and your partner. The kids will also appreciate if they have some me-time during the holidays. In order to make all these wishes come true, you need to encourage your kids to socialize during the winter break, as well.
First and foremost, you can arrange various cousins’ gatherings. For instance, you can invite the kids of your friends and relatives to spend some time together while the adults throw a Christmas party or a mere hangout. For smaller kids, it would be smart to find a trustworthy nanny or a governess, to keep an eye on them during that gathering.
Apart from those parent-organised social events, you should ask around if there are any workshops for kids in your town. Many private schools and childcare organizations organize various activities that improve children’s literacy, as well as their social skills. When your kids are exposed to other children, they’ll see how those other kids behave and what skills they have. It could inspire them to work harder on their own skills, as well.
How can you boost your child’s literacy during winter?
Your children need your encouragement in everything they do. Literacy is one of the skills that requires a lot of work and constant support from parents. It doesn’t only include learning to write and read, but also improving their overall understanding of the world around them. The context of winter holidays, with Christmas, New Year and all the activities typical for this part of the year will help you strengthen the bond with your kids. And if you apply the strategies suggested in this post, you’ll improve their literacy, as well.