Students across Houston may be waiting anxiously for time off from the classroom and their teachers next week, but that doesn’t mean they have to take time off from learning. Though a week for Spring Break may seem like a short time, it’s important that kids have new and creative experiences to keep their minds active and growing, especially before spring testing season. Parents, here are some activities to keep your kids happily and obliviously learning over the break.
Visit the library and read!
You can go anywhere in a book – so take your child on a free vacation and get them a Houston Public Library card. Reading builds imagination and fosters a strong vocabulary. There is nothing you can do for your child that will have more educational benefits than encourage a love of reading.
Visit the museum or zoo
Take advantage of the week off to visit Houston’s world class museum district. Your child can learn about art (Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum), science (Museum of Natural Science, Health Museum, Weather Museum), or history (Holocaust Museum, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum), or just have fun being a kid (Children’s Museum). While you are in the area, spend some time outdoors the Houston Zoo and Japanese Tea Gardens in Hermann Park or catch a free show at Miller Outdoor Theater. Most museums offer free general admission on Thursdays, and be sure to check their website for any special events scheduled for Spring Break.
Take a trip to a college campus
It is never too early to start thinking about college. Check with the admissions offices at the University of Houston, University of Houston Downtown, Rice University, and Texas Southern University, Houston Baptist University, and St. Thomas University for tours, or just wander around the campuses. Exposing your child to higher education environments can motivate them to work hard in school now.
Expose your child to career possibilities
Ask your child what career she is interested in, and arrange a field trip. For example, if she is interested in medicine or nursing, ask your doctor if you can stop by for a visit at the hospital. If she is interested in science or engineering, take her to NASA. It’s great to expose kids to the real-life application of what they are learning in school in different careers – and will help them connect concepts and ideas.
Practice managing money
Managing money gives your child a sense of responsibility and an opportunity to practice her math skills. Give her a small amount and ask her to write out a budget on how she will spend it throughout the week. She can also help you calculate the total cost of purchase at the grocery store or the mall by calculating the sum total of your items plus sales tax (8.25%).
Listen to new kinds of music
Turn off the radio and turn on new sorts of music, like symphonies, opera, jazz, soul, and classic rock, that your child has never heard before. Exposure to new music helps stimulate vocabulary growth and mathematical comprehension, and it might spark interest around the history of the musical era.
Start a journal
Encourage your child to practice her writing skills by keeping a written account of her activities on break. She may like it so much that she decides to continue after she goes back to school.
There are hundreds of organizations in Houston that need help – and volunteering helps instill a sense of service and pride in your community. Check out volunteerhou.org for opportunities around town, or contact the organization that you are interested in assisting directly to see when they could use your family’s help. Volunteering and community service also looks great on college applications!