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Supporting Learning at Home Over the Holidays.

I dedicate this post to all the families that work hard to support their children's learning.

I have been asked,

"How do I get my kid to read at home?"

"How do I keep reading going at home over the holidays?"

"How do I keep the school momentum going while we are on a break?"

First, I'd like to recognize that our situations are different and our children are so beautifully unique. However, with that said, there is a similarity in that we all want what is best for our children. There is also a similarity in that we all experience struggle when trying to support learning at home. This is what I call our shared humanity; the difficulties that we can all experience and the wishes for our children that we all have. I don't mean to say here that our difficulties are all the same (gosh absolutely not) but we do all experience difficulties when we try to work with our kids on something that is challenging.

Second, I'd like everyone to practice self- compassion when trying to accomplish difficult tasks. Treat yourself with kindness, as if you are your best friend and you're trying to support him or her. Also, offer your child compassion and empathy along the way.

Ok, now on to really answering the questions above. So the questions are fairly similar and my answers apply to all the above questions.

1. Spend precious time with your children over the holidays. Time doing whatever you enjoy doing together, just do it with deliberate presence with each other. Wait, but how does this help? You're are deepening your connection with your children and building and strengthening the foundation to your relationship; this foundation allows you to work through the difficult stuff. So go ahead and have fun doing what you like to do together, but give each other the gift of presence. Notice the laughter, the smiles, all the emotions and take in the moment.

2. Create cozy time to cuddle up with each other and share books. This can absolutely be graphic novels, digital books, traditional books, joke books, seriously, whatever it is that you and your child enjoy. Yes, graphic novels are fantastic for engaging reluctant readers. They allow your child to read at an appropriate level and the beautiful artwork keeps their attention and allows them to more easily follow the storyline. The only stipulation if you are trying to support reading, is to experience print, experience words in print form as much as possible. Yes, listening to books on tape (oh no! did I just age myself here) can be an additional activity to support literacy at home. Wait, what? I can just listen to books? No, not - just, in addition. Listening to books is also great; it fosters a love of story and literacy, promotes creativity and builds vocabulary.

3. Read out loud to your child. Spending time reading to your child is magical. It helps build vocabulary; helps children understand punctuation and cadence for reading; helps build the connection between parent and child; promotes a love of story and more. Head to the library or a local book store and pick out a book together. Or choose a book that was special to you as a child and share that experience with your child.

4. Play games - do you like board games, card games? I do, a lot. Board games are amazing at allowing people to spend quality time together. It promotes conversation, yes, verbal skills are also a part of developing one's reading ability. Games can be cooperative or competitive, either way they help develop problem solving skills.

5. Bake together. I know that sometimes I like to bake alone, in peace. However, if I plan for it and the kids are excited about it, I also enjoy baking with the "help" of my kids. Baking usually uses a recipe that I mostly, not really, follow. The kids help me to stay on track; they need to read to ensure I do that. Aww mom! you're so tricky.

6. Spend time reading yourself. Allow your kids see you read. With smart phones becoming more likely to be surgically connected to our bodies, I find that a lot of adults are not reading "real" books. Our kids don't usually learn to read on a phone or a computer - however, sometimes they do learn to read on tablets (with that aside); let's do our best to be reading role models and read "real" books. Your child will see you reading and in turn be more motivated to do it themselves.

7. Stock the house with books, books, books everywhere. Head to the library and enjoy the hunt for a great books, bring them home and make them accessible; leave them on the floor in their room, on the dinner table, on the coffee, spread out on the couch...somewhere they can see and access them easily. Books don't count as mess in my house; they are decoration.

8. Keep the supplies for writing easily accessible. One "trick" I like to do around my house is to keep pencils, sharpeners, staplers, paper, notebooks and more set out for the creative desire in my kids. I don't "say" anything, I just set the stage. It works wonders for the kids that once you have made a suggestion, it seems that is the last thing they want to do - you know you know a kid or maybe an adult like that.

8.5. Get active. Move your bodies, have a full day of adventure outside or playing at the pool or whatever it is that your family enjoys. When you return home, settle in a find time to do some of the above suggestions. Once you have been able to "get the wiggles" out, some of the other above suggestions may come easier.

8.6 - Eat well and sleep well :) I had to fit it in somewhere.

9. Patience. Have patience with the process. We all need time to warm-up to and accomplish something that is challenging for us. Learning is a journey not a destination; however, there are strategies that can be used along the journey.

10. Keep asking questions and have conversations with your child about their learning. Also, have conversations with other families; allow yourself to grow and learn from others. We are a community of beautiful humans and we can learn so much from each other.

Questions and caring gentle comments are welcome. Please share any strategies that you do at home that help to support your child's learning journey.

If are looking for suggestions on books (I love books), board games (which I also love) or audiobook website suggestions please don't hesitate to ask.

Have a beautiful, loving holiday.

Yours in education,

Deanna Coleman

Learning Specialist

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