School-age children have numerous breaks between the months of November and March, including two weeks in December. Kids in colder states may experience additional days off because of inclement weather. Anyone who’s ever been a teenager knows that the excitement being home from school wears off and boredom sets in, even if you enjoy camping out on the couch and watching television. To keep mentally active, parents can plan educational activities for winter break.
Visit local museums. Local museums often schedule educational workshops and activities for teens and small children. Pick up a schedule to see if they have special winter events or guest speakers. Museums also offer online activities divided by age.
Play board games. Board games are both fun and educational, especially games like Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble and even Monopoly. They teach skills such as reading, memorization, economics and deductive reasoning. Scrabble is especially good for juniors and seniors planning to take SATs.
Read books. During the school year, teens may not have time to read anything other than school books. Pick books commonly read in high school or freshmen college English classes. This activity gives teens a head start in their education. Show teenagers how to pick literary themes, imagery, conflicts and the parts of a novel.
Watch movies based on literary works. If you know of stories your kids have read in school, find the movies on Netflix or the local library. Have your teens pick out the similarities and differences between literary and film adaptations. Shakespearean plays are always winners. Suggested adaptations include “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Hamlet,” and “Twelfth Night.”
Make a playlist of songs and analyze them. This idea may seem a little silly, but if your teen take pop culture classes in high school and college, they need to be able analyze music the same as you would analyze books. They can also write a biographical sketch of popular entertainers, without using Wikipedia, entertainment websites or entertainment news shows. Tell them to find out something that they never knew.
Do winter-themed activities, such as activities about the scientific composition of show, the origin of snow days or the history of winter holidays and celebrations. Many teens and adults may not realize that many holidays have sometimes macabre backgrounds.
Take classes at local community colleges, technical schools or universities. I know Pima Community College offers winter-break classes and allows juniors and seniors to enroll in college credit classes. They can take classes for college and high school credit and give them skills needed to acquire gainful employment after high school. Taking classes in high school may even reduce the need to spend four or more years pursuing a degree.
Take online classes. If you don’t live near institutes of higher learning, you can take online classes from colleges all over the world. With the exception of doing them at home, most online schools are the equivalent of sitting in a classroom. Of course, some online education is only for personal enrichment.
Get extra tutoring. Sylvan Learning and other companies sometimes offers special tutoring sessions during winter break. They provide tutoring because it doesn’t take a long time for kids to forget the lessons learned before the break.
Trace family genealogy. Visit websites like Ancestry.com and RootsWeb.com and start a family tree. Since parents may also be home from work, this can be a family project. If the weather not inclement, the libraries and state archives have historic records and old newspapers.
Educational activities for teenagers during winter break don’t have to be strict, mechanical lessons like those in classrooms. The activities can incorporate fun activities that teens enjoy anyway or be learning experiences that may help them in the coming school year or after graduation. The best way to find activities involves taping in to teens’ likes and dislikes.