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Avoiding winter break brain drain: Tips to keep students focused | Families

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Avoiding winter break brain drain: Tips to keep students focused
Families, Schools
Avoiding winter break brain drain: Tips to keep students focused

With the winter break approaching for students across Michigan, so too approaches the end of one semester and the beginning of another.

To facilitate a smooth transition while keeping students’ minds sharp and focused during their time off, Great Lakes Cyber Academy educators recommend a series of time-tested tips for maintaining the momentum so  the second half of the school year is even better than the first.  

  • Build up to the semester’s end by staying on track. Avoid the temptation to “slack off” as holidays approach. Remind your students to keep up-to-date or even work ahead. As overdue lessons pile on top of one another, catching up can feel overwhelming. Your whole family will benefit by staying on top of deadlines.
  • Look ahead. Are there any portfolio activities that take additional time to research or write? Do you have any science labs that will require time for plants to grow or water to evaporate? The end of the semester is a firm deadline. Plan ahead now for success!
  • Take things step-by-step. If your student has overdue lessons or big projects due before the holiday, break them down into manageable pieces. Have your child complete a small chunk each day. (You may also want to set aside a few hours on a Saturday.) Tackle reviewing for an exam the same way. Work with your child to create a plan that ensures the work will be completed before it’s due.
  •  As the semester ends, make note of it mentally and emotionally. Celebrate successes—grades, projects well done, and hard work studying for tests and quizzes. Take a weekend to relax before starting the second semester. Read a book for pleasure. Go see a movie. Bake a cake or cookies! Simple pleasures make good celebrations, and good celebrations bring a feeling of closure to the semester just finished. With that time and hard work behind you, it’ll be easier to look ahead.
  • Review what your students have learned. Are your students studying history? The timeline will continue and build on the material from first semester. In math, they will continue to add new challenges onto already-mastered fundamentals. To support spring semester’s success, plan a few learning activities to review during the holiday break—just to keep this learning fresh in your student’s mind. Your teacher may also have some suggestions.
  • Set new goals. A new semester is a good time to establish new target goals. A “3-2-1 summary” can be a good way to start the discussion: List THREE good habits to keep in place. Name TWO bad habits to break. And finally—but most importantly—choose ONE positive change to make.

“While not as long as the summer break, the holiday recess can still have a negative impact on the learning process if students don’t remain active with their studies,” said Heather Ballien, principal at Great Lakes Cyber Academy, a full-time, tuition-free, virtual public high school in Michigan. “For that reason, it’s critical that they spend some time over the break on activities that will stimulate their minds intellectually.”

As your children get excited for the holidays and time off from school, prepare fun and educational activities that they can participate in so that they are ready to continue learning where they left off—the result will be a successful spring semester.


Families, Schools