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Five Tips to Help Kids Stay Sharp Over Holiday Break

Child write in a notebook. Close up hand and pen

At this point in the year students are probably in one of two positions. Either they are completely overwhelmed and exhausted or they have lost their zeal for education. Depending on which path a student is currently walking down, there are a few things they can do to stay sharp and alert over holiday break.

Dealing with stress
By December students are often stressed out because they are experiencing the domino effect of academics. Basically this means they got behind on an assignment a couple of months ago which led to being behind on another assignment and so on. Eventually all of the dominoes fall down and create a huge weight on a student’s shoulders. Once final grades are in students will have a fresh start for their spring term. This is a great time of year to hone organizational and study skills that can help prevent the domino effect from occurring all over again. Students can look at what’s been working and what hasn’t been working once they have been off of school for a few days. There’s nothing like a rested mind to be able to problem solve and come up with new ideas.

Dealing with motivation
With summer break long gone many students simply are no longer motivated to perform academically. Often motivation comes when students realize there is either a reward or consequence for their actions. Younger children get tired of stars charts and letter grades generally aren’t enough to get them going. Parents may want to come up with an alternate rewards system or allocate this job to a supplemental educator who can come in to the situation with a fresh pair of eyes. There can be heavier consequences for college prep students who may lose out on entrance to a great university due to lack of motivation. In this case it may be good to allow students to rest and relax for a week and then sit down and talk with them about what they’re missing out on if they don’t continue to make an excellent effort.

Extracurricular activities
Another way students tend to stay sharp is if they have an activity on a daily or weekly basis they truly enjoy. By December or January the humdrum of daily academic life can prevent students from maintaining mental focus. Holiday break is a great time to let students pick an activity they would like to do between January and June. Maybe they’ve wanted to volunteer at the animal shelter and play with kittens two Saturdays a month. Perhaps they wanted to try out for a sports team their friends are playing on. Maybe they’ve been asking for music lessons all year. Regardless of the activity, it should be something the student truly enjoys and chooses for themselves.

Plain old relaxation
In many ways students can stay sharp if they are well rested. The couple of weeks that students have during holiday break can be an essential time for relaxation. Think about how much better adults tend to perform on Monday morning if they have had a nice relaxing weekend. It’s the exact same thing for students. If students have been performing well in the classroom, holiday break can be a great time for them to have just that, a break.

Review difficult concepts
Even the most successful students are probably hanging on by their fingernails at this point in the year. Once they start up again in January they will have to keep going all the way through till the end of June. Younger students may be able to enjoy spring break but college prep students will probably spend it studying for AP exams or the SAT/ACT. Holiday break is a good time to review some of those difficult concepts so that they are solid. A teacher or tutor can really help students master the topics they have been struggling with during the first half of the year. Review can also instill confidence that’s required for students to persevere and prosper for the next few months.

Robyn Scott is a private English tutor at TutorNerds. She attended the University of California, Irvine as an undergraduate and the University of Southampton in England as a graduate student. She has worked with students from the United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and Africa.

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