Christmas is a wonderful time to enjoy family and friends.
I want to wish all of you the very best for the holidays. I know everyone has different traditions and beliefs, but it is always a positive thing to reconnect with those you love, whatever the occasion.
The holidays are also a fantastic time for learning.
You knew I was going there.
Yes. Learning can happen at any time, but it does not need to be academic learning per se. For example, you can teach your children how to be patient when you are assembling their toys – or trying to figure out why the (fill-in-your-own choice words) toy won’t work.
Perhaps it isn’t a toy. If might be that new bookshelf or desk that needs to be assembled from a wide variety of parts. My wife once bought me a desk that needed to be assembled. Believe it or not, it was fun! (Yes – I read directions, but then I am a relic.) And, yes, reading directions and following them carefully is an excellent learning opportunity. this can be applied to board games and other games as well.
Card, dice, and board games bring the family together and can introduce lots of learning. If a die or dice is involved, there will be counting, possibly adding or other math skills.
Cribbage fans know all the combinations for fifteen, for example.
Uno players learn about quickly adding up amounts and making executive decisions about which play to pursue – and often which one to sacrifice.
Chess, of course, can engage the planning and plotting parts of the brain – looking forward, predicting, and recalling patterns.
Crazy Eights, Go fish, Euchre, and other card games, both easy to learn and more challenging, bring lots of laughter (done right) and chances to learn about combinations, counting, and related math skills; however, as with all games, there are life lessons, too. Patience, fair play, following the rules, and kindness all come to mind. Learning to share and learning to lose with grace are so valuable.
Monopoly teaches a bit about money. It isn’t too realistic but the broader aspects are still useful.
Sports of all kinds open up learning opportunities. Go skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or skating. Body movements, balance, and coordination are all components of learning. Of course, running, hiking, exploring, and even indoor sports can be done in winter, too.
Reading blogs, books, and magazine articles about a favourite sport can open up the mind to new possibilities, unknown rules, and original moves you’ve never tried before.
Speaking of reading, reading aloud is an awesome activity on the holidays. Themed stories about Hanukkah or Christmas, are always interesting, but any stories or book will do. There is nothing wrong with adults reading aloud to children or teens and vice-versa. For that matter, there is nothing wrong with adults reading to adults either – think audio books.
While reading, you can discuss the book. Talk about the characters, the plot, or make predictions. In other words, make it fun!
For the more adventurous, try writing a Christmas story of your own. Remember that a holiday story can go in any direction. It can be sweet and joyful, it can be mysterious and suspenseful, or it can take a frightening twist into horror. (Ooohhh that evil elf!)
Cooking and baking all those holiday treats can be a super learning experience. Think about measuring, temperatures, following directions (relic in training?), adjusting amounts, and so on. Of course, eating the treats is a motivating factor.
Social gatherings, whether with family, friends, or a mixture (perhaps even a few strangers mixed in), provide learning skills that will serve people for the rest of their lives. Social learning and social proficiency is often overlooked, yet it is so important -particularly in today’s society. Some people who are brilliant academically are hampered by a lack of social ability. It can be a real disability leading to failure in the job market, depression, addiction, and a much less joyful life. Don’t overlook the importance of getting Johnny or Sally out and about, meeting people and learning to do a little polite small talk. Many of the earlier activities mentioned have a social component as well.
You will have noticed that a combination of these activities would include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, speaking, reading, and writing. All the different kinds of learning styles.
I could go on and on, but I won’t.
Oh, wait, there is also…
No, I said I’d stop. That’s my Christmas gift to you. I won’t be so verbose – just this once.
Wishing you all the very best over the holiday,
Video: Merry Christmas!