Five Ways to Keep Kids Learning in the Holidays

Bored teenager
Image by Jayalekshman-SJ from Unsplash

Now that the Summer holidays are upon us (at least in this partof the world), some parents may be worrying about the impacts of the long break on their kid’s motivation and capacity to learn – not to mention the perennial issue of keeping them occupied if you have to work while they are on holiday.

Here are five tips, backed by research, and proven in practice by students and educators. And, of course, this being Ludogogy – games that support the underlying concepts. These are all about encouraging a mindset around learning which will enagage them outside of school, and have them hitting the ground running when they return.

Encourage Your Child to Ask Questions

The cure for boredom is Curiosity. There is no cure for Curiosity. It must be outgrown or endured. A child is born with its mouth in position to utter the word “Why?” and when, at some later date, it is punished for asking too many questions, it thinks up enough additional questions during its punishment to make the Encyclopedia Britannica look sick.

– Ellen Parr (probably)

Asking questions is obviously a great way to learn more about a subject, and it shows that your child is interested in the material. When kids are curious about something, they’re more likely to pay attention and retain information. Furthermore, asking questions also demonstrates critical thinking skills – a valuable asset in any academic setting. So next time your child comes home from school with a question, don’t just give them the answer – encourage them to research it themselves. This will help them develop their inquisitive nature and learn how to find answers on their own. As we games-based learning afficionados are only too are aware, when learners are actively engaged in learning, they retain more information.

Some games that focus on questioning skills include those specifically for the job like the Questioning Skills Board Game (on Amazon) for children 6+, but there are also an abundance of deduction games like 221B Baker Street (on Amazon) or party games for discovery about yourself and your friends and family like Sussed – the ‘Would you Rather’ card game (on Amazon)  or Conversation Cubes – with 36 sides of conversation starters per pack (on Amazon)

Encourage Your Child to Take Notes

Taking notes is another great way to help kids learn more effectively. It allows them to organize information and refer back to it later. Additionally, taking notes helps students develop their listening skills and attention span. There are a few different ways to take notes, so find what works best for your child. Some students prefer to write down everything the teacher says, while others only jot down key points. Encourage your child to experiment with different note-taking methods until they find one that works for them. In addition to taking notes in class, encourage your child to review their notes regularly. This will help them solidify the information in their mind and better prepare for tests and quizzes.

To hone this skill through a game experience try games which require meticulous note taking and analysis of information to solve a central problem. Cartographers (on Amazon) or several which use a Cluedo style deduction mechanic, such as Spy Alley (on Amazon).

Help Your Child Organize Their Thoughts

One of the challenges of school is learning how to organize information. This can be a difficult task for kids, as they often have trouble distinguishing between important and unimportant details. As a result, they may have trouble remembering what they’ve learned or understanding complex concepts. There are a few ways you can help your child overcome this challenge. First, encourage them to take notes in class (as mentioned above). This will help them identify key points and sort through information more easily. You can also help your child organize their thoughts by teaching them brainstorming techniques. Brainstorming is a great way to generate ideas and come up with creative solutions to problems. There are many different brainstorming methods, so find one that works best for your child.

Tools for older children to use which introduce them to ideation and information processing techniques which will be useful in school and beyond might include Thinkertoys (on Amazon), and for younger children Found It! (on Amazon)

Children in museum
Photo by Gabriela on Unsplash

Educational Travel and Field Trips

One of the best ways to learn is by experiencing things first-hand. That’s why educational travel and field trips can be so beneficial for kids. They provide an opportunity to see new places, meet new people, and learn about different cultures and history. Educational travel doesn’t have to be expensive – there are many affordable options available. You can even plan a day trip to a nearby museum or historical site.  Many museums and historical sites offer educational programs for school groups inside term time, but also for familiesin the holidays. These programs are often very affordable, and they provide a great learning opportunity for kids.

Sometimes this isn’t possible of course. The need to accompany smaller children may make if difficult for working parents. The current heatwave is a good reason to stay at home, so many of the more ‘themed’ online and tabletop games can provide brilliant ‘field’ experiences, of everything from living in a different time, to living on a different planet. Particular favorites of Ludogogy – if you are looking for the educational benefit of games based in ‘real’ history, science or in literature that might pop upon the curriculum, are Crusader Kings, Genotype (on Amazon) and Marrying Mr Darcy (on Amazon)

Let Them Be Bored

The final tip is a hard one for some parents and may appear to go against all the above, which has focused of giving your children something ‘to do’. However, not being scared of your kids being bored, may well allow them to use the resources identified above even more effectively.

Our children, in this age of devices and always available entertainment are very unlikely to be properly ‘bored’ as those of us who grew up in earlier times will have experienced. According to experts this lack of opportunity to be bored is not a good thing. It has negative impacts on creativity, problem-solving capabilities and can even cause anxiety and self-esteem issues.

The key, according to many experts is to allow self-directed activity – and not to act as some kind of entertainments manager for your kids. All of the above are great, and it would be brilliant to timebox family time to experience them together – but also try just making them available and giving your kids time and space to chose when and why they use them.

Talk to your children about the benefits of boredom,and encourage them to put aside their devices, just for short periods to begin with, and see what emerges from these weeks of freedom.

Editor at Ludogogy
Sarah Le-Fevre is a games-based learning professional who specialises in organisational learning around systemic ‘wicked problems’, and helping businesses spot and exploit opportunities for ethical ‘for good’ innovation. She works with tools such as Lego® Serious Play® and the Octalysis gamification framework to create compelling immersive learning experiences. She is currently writing a book outlining a systems practice approach to delivering impactful learning within organisations.

A real board games nerd, she is considering having her floors reinforced to support the ever increasing weight of the boxes. When she is not designing or facilitating learning games she is the editor of Ludogogy Magazine. Sarah lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, younger daughter, and a beautiful (but very loud) Bengal cat.

Ludogogy Needs You!!. It's a full-time job and cannot continue without support. Please become a patron to keep Ludogogy going and to access some great patron perks
Latest posts by Ludogogy (see all)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.