From “Summer Slide” to “Holiday Hiccup”

by On December 23, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Holidays, Reading

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Have winter fun and avoid the holiday hiccup. Credit: Karpati Gabor,

Have winter fun and avoid the holiday hiccup.
Credit: Karpati Gabor,

Six months ago, everyone was talking about “the summer slide” and how to combat the effects of kids’ learning loss when school lets out.

Now it’s time to think about summer slide’s lesser known counterpart: the “holiday hiccup.”

Parents of young kids feel it coming. Winter?break is only a few short weeks, but just like in summer, things turn upside down, from sleep schedules and daily routines to kids’ energy levels. And just as they did in summer, kids will insist, “no school work, I’m on a break!”?The problem is, for many kids, even a few weeks’ break can result in learning setbacks mid-school year, often just as progress is being made.

Since the school year began, our daughter has been working hard with a reading specialist,?her progress and confidence slowly improving. We’d hate to see her momentum disrupted at the holidays. Yet, we’re not Scrooges, either. We all deserve to enjoy the winter break.

So here’s what I’m thinking. Similar to strategies for combatting the summer slide, parents can try focusing on holiday/winter activities that incorporate reading, writing and/or math in fun ways your kid won’t mind or even notice. Here are 8 ideas to consider:

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  1. Holiday baking ?– It’s fun, yummy, and involves some mental effort: reading recipes, following directions, measuring, calculating bake times, and sorting goodies into equal stacks for gift giving or family sharing.
  2. Composing holiday lists – Even reluctant young writers feel inspired when writing wish lists for you or Santa.
  3. Creating shopping budgets – Sorting, stacking and counting piggy bank coins are good math practice activities. Figuring out what their coins can buy is a good lesson in budgeting for kids.
  4. Playing games – Chilly days are a perfect time for word/number based games. Cards, puzzles, charades, or Scrabble anyone?

    Read and sing! Credit: Darren Hester,

    Read and sing!
    Credit: Darren Hester,

  5. Holiday caroling – Grab some friends and song sheets and serenade the neighbors. This is fun reading practice, especially when followed by hot cocoa.
  6. Playing a movie night game – Watch a favorite holiday flick, notepad in hand. Whoever hears and writes the most holiday words by the end of the movie wins.
  7. Writing thank you notes – It’s good writing practice and good manners (younger kids can have fun decorating notes, too).
  8. Enjoying pleasure reading – Libraries are lovely destinations on a cold day. (Check out holiday classics like Twas the Night Before Christmas to round out your personal collection.) And explore Bookboard’s holiday/winter titles with your kids. A great book and a warm blanket are a great combo any winter day or evening.

Holding your breath won’t cure the holiday hiccup situation, but creative, fun approaches to winter learning opportunities should help.


Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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