Vacation time away from school gives children a chance to unwind and relax. But this break from school can also bring a loss of skills just gained in school. I have found that when children continue to practice school skills (while having fun, of course!), they return to their classroom in January ready to continue learning with strong skills.
Keeping a Journal
One way to encourage practice of writing skills while enjoying the winter vacation is for children to keep a journal. By writing for a few minutes every day, children solidify their writing skills. This journal can be a log of what happened each day of the winter break.
Tips for encouraging journal writing
– Create a special “book” to be the journal. You can buy a blank book for your child or find a cardboard cover bound book with lined paper. These are inexpensive and can be found a office supply stores or even the drug store. You can even create your own book by stapling blank or lined paper between two pieces of construction paper.
– Set aside approximately 20 – 30 minutes each day for journal writing. Early in the day is usually better, since children are more rested.
– Set out a full array of drawing and writing materials. A new set of colored pencils or crayons can be a wonderful incentive to spend time writing and drawing.
– Let your child know that this journal is his opportunity to record what happened on this vacation. He can make all of the decisions about what to write and draw. And he can share the journal with others or keep his work to himself. Sometimes children enjoy having an opportunity to express themselves when they know that it will not be viewed by others.
– Ask young children to draw a picture first. After the picture is drawn, your child can add words to describe his illustration.
– Encourage your child to use inventive spelling to record his ideas. You might help by slowly saying the words your child wants to write to help him hear the sounds in the word. But when you do this, be careful not to distort the word. Simply say it distinctly and clearly. With practice, your child will hear more and more of the sounds in the word. After your child writes his words in his journal, ask him to read the words back to you. This will help you know what he has written also. Beginning writers often like it when an adult writes his words in conventional spelling under his inventive spelling. This will allow him to read his words at a later time as well. But first ask him if he would like you to do this before writing in his journal.
– If your child is not yet able to write letters or isolate letter sounds in words, you can “take dictation” and write the words he tells you that describe his picture. Or, if you feel like he’s close to being able to write the letters himself, try using some tracing letters worksheets to help him improve his handwriting.
– Remind your child to write the date on each journal entry so that he can look back and remember when he created it.
Renee Abramovitz is a a former preschool and kindergarten teacher who retired in 2008 to become a “full-time grandma” to her four beautiful grandsons. She is passionate about the idea that all parents are their child’s first and most important teacher and strives to give parents the tools and confidence they need to successfully work with their children at home.
Visit Renee at www.schoolsparks.com for information on helping your child develop important school-readiness skills. On her site you’ll find a free kindergarten readiness test plus hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets including Christmas math worksheets and Christmas worksheets!