When the school bell rings on Friday afternoon, most students in the U.S. will be headed home for two glorious weeks of winter break.
But as that time off is around the holidays, the long break can also be a recipe for restless children and parents at their wits' end.
To help parents stay sane into the new year and avoid hearing "I'm bored" for two weeks straight, we compiled some ideas for winter break activities to do as a family.
1. Pay it forward
Sure, kids love receiving gifts during the holidays. But winter break is a great time to teach them to give back. You can have your kids go through their old toys and donate ones they no longer want to make room for new ones. You can also do something nice for a neighbor or volunteer together at a shelter or soup kitchen. Teaching them to give early on makes them more likely to serve others into adulthood.
2. Cook together
Getting in the kitchen as a family is a great way to bond. Cooking or baking encourages young kids to learn and practice basic math concepts like measurements. It can even help build language skills. You’re also helping build their self-confidence and comfort in the kitchen.
3. Read books together
We've stressed the importance of reading to and with your kids over and over again here at State of Opportunity. It helps develop language and speech skills, improves a child's ability to communicate and think logically, and positively impacts academic outcomes. You can choose books from your own bookshelf, or hide out from the cold weather for an afternoon and explore your local library.
4. Write a book together
If your kids are anything like mine, they always have a story to tell. So why not take the time to write these stories down? Older kids can write and do illustrations and parents can help younger kids. You can even create books by cutting pictures out of old magazines you have laying around.
5. Take a trip
Planning a trip with kids, especially if they're younger, is no small task. But winter break can be a great time to adventure outside of your own city and see new things. It can be as complicated as hopping on a plane, or as easy as staying overnight in a neighboring city.
6. Put on a talent show
My kids always have a dance or song to show me, so this idea would be perfect in my home. You can have a family talent show right in your living room or basement. It can be as elaborate or simple as you want. Just encourage everyone to participate (yes, even you, parents) and allow any and all talents. You can even record it if you want to share it or watch it for years to come.
7. Go to a museum or science center
Local attractions can be a perfect reprieve from the cold. Pack lunches and spend a day at a local museum or science center. They can provide kids with immersive learning experiences, encourage imagination, introduce new subjects, and offer unique environments. Some museums may even offer free or discounted admission on certain days.
8. Get out and play
Kids need to get outside and play, even during the winter. Outside play builds up their immune system, provides exercise, stimulates the imagination, promotes problem solving skills and provides Vitamin D – things all kids need even when temperatures drop. And getting some fresh air is good for parents, too. So bundle up and go build a snow man. And have fun!