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How to Reset over Winter Break and Prepare for the Second Semester

Sylvan VP of Education Emily Mitchell shares tips on how to make the most of winter break, giving students a chance to decompress without losing progress.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 3:15PM 12/18/23

Winter break is an important time for students to decompress, rest and spend time with family. However, it also presents a prime opportunity for them to catch up on learning. Any progress made during this time is pure progress — they are not working to catch up to a still-moving class. 

“The benefit of doing things over winter break is the same as working on catching up during summer break: You’re not chasing a class,” said Emily Mitchell, vice president of education at Sylvan Learning. “If your student needs to make up some ground, that’s a really good time to do it because, otherwise, they’re going to have to move faster than their peer group in the second semester to catch up.”

It is important that the student still feels that they have had a break from school, so parents should be intentional about balancing education with fun activities. While there are some activities that clearly fit into one category or the other, there are some activities typically associated with the winter season that fit into both categories.

Holiday baking and cooking can provide practice with reading comprehension when following recipes and mathematical skills like fractions, multiplication and division when measuring and assembling the dish. Writing holiday cards provides practice with basic English language arts skills, and for younger children, something as simple as a decorating task can support fine motor skill development, counting skills and color identification.

For more targeted winter learning support, Mitchell recommends checking with the child’s teacher for recommendations on where a child should focus their attention over the break.

“I would ask parents to reach out to the teacher and ask what they should focus on,” she said. “Teachers  might propose catching up on missing work, or they could provide a preview of the first few topics that will be covered in the new year so you can review them with your child first. This way, they aren’t seeing the concepts for the first time in class, and it’s one less thing for them to struggle with.”

Local Sylvan Learning Centers can also support this venture. In many communities, centers are open for extended hours during school holidays to provide additional support when students traditionally would not have any structured learning time. For families taking this route, Mitchell recommends bringing some tools or information that can better contextualize the student’s needs.

“I would have them bring either a school-provided device or their own device that they can use to log into the school’s learning management system,” she explained. “If they can show the Sylvan teacher this platform, they can see all of the assignments that have been given over the course of the semester as well as any ongoing assignments that may need attention over the break. You can also see all of their grades, and this can show a pattern; is a student not completing work on time? Maybe they would benefit most from working on study skills. Having all of this information helps the tutor diagnose and plan a little better.”

Making academic progress over winter break does not have to derail the fun of the entire season, but with proper planning and execution, even 30 minutes each day or a few hours per week can help students catch up on assignments, make progress with academic standards or even lay the foundation for a great second semester with helpful study and time management habits.

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