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Winter Break Shouldn’t be a Break from Learning

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December 31, 2007

Portland, OR – Oregon schoolchildren still have a big chunk of their winter break stretching out before them. Educators suggest that parents make an effort to use this time productively. Keeping kids learning during the "down time" means exercising their brains, which will make their eventual return to the classroom much easier.

Courtney Vanderstek with the Oregon Education Association's Center for Teaching and Learning warns that students who spend a lot of their time off in front of the television will find it especially hard to get back into learning mode when they go back to school.

"If suddenly all of the break time is seen as 'I don't have to do anything that's connected with thinking skills or reading,' it requires a startup again for the brain. Our minds need to be engaged all the time to grow."

Vanderstek adds that learning during vacation doesn't have to be anything formal, however.

"It can be while you're preparing dinner: Is there a recipe you're following? It can be everyday habits, but we can attach some kind of conversation, expand the vocabulary, think about, 'What would it be like if..?'"

Vanderstek suggests reading things aloud to a child, from recipes to books, or discussing other cultures or history. All of these can be ways to help children learn, and this "brain workout" interaction brings families together, too.

Dondrea Warner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OR