UBC’s Theresa Rogers on what to do with your kids over Spring Break
With March Break around the corner, many elementary and secondary students will have two weeks off from school. Should the spring hiatus mean a total mental break from academics? Or should kids keep learning? Theresa Rogers, a professor in the Faculty of Education, shares her advice.
How do parents choose which activities are best for their child?
To some extent this depends on the child. Some children, particularly younger children, may find school overwhelming and may need time to decompress with unstructured play and quieter activities. For other children, parents might choose a program by following their interests–do they like sports, environmental activities, art, music, dance or drama? Parents know their children best and should feel confident in their choices.
How do parents find the right balance between educational activities and play over this two-week break?
The best approach is to blend play and learning. We know from many observational studies of young children that play itself is the source of much learning and problem solving, and many new skills can be learned in that context. For older children, there should be a mix of more structured educational activities and unstructured playtime. Teenagers can engage for extended periods of time in educational experiences related to their interests or academic goals.
Should schools give homework to keep kids occupied?
Homework for young children should be kept to a minimum and should be related to planned activities and hands-on projects, and might include reading about their interests, writing about their experiences, taking photographs and creating multimedia scrapbooks, etc. For older students, homework should be meaningful; it should contribute to gaining new knowledge, solidifying or synthesizing what they have learned, or engaging in critical thinking. Research has shown that parents can play a key role in extending their children’s knowledge and improving academic success by having extended dinner conversations about current events and issues.