Holiday Traditions for Families

Creating traditions with your children is an important part of growing up. Traditions can bring families together and provide a sense of comfort and belonging. They can also be a wonderful avenue to create long lasting memories that nurture the family connection. It is great to have different traditions throughout the entire year but the holidays is the perfect place to start if you are looking to add some tradition to your family!

Here are some ideas that we love. Some are more Christmas related, but others are traditions you can start with your child, no matter your beliefs.

Christmas Tree: Plan special traditions around getting your Christmas tree. We love the idea of picking a day to get your tree. Some people like to wait until December 1st. We think any day after thanksgiving is fair game. Get it from the same place every year, or get a special hot chocolate on your way to get the tree. Adding in a yearly tradition will make the experience so memorable. Let your children help in decorating the tree. There work decorating might not be the most “aesthetically pleasing,” with ornaments toward the bottom of the tree all grouped together, but they will be so proud of their work and so happy to be part of your family traditions.

Advent Calendars: There are so many different types of advent calendars that start the holiday season off on the first day of December. You can go for a store bought version with the little candies, or the wooden ones where you get to put in items of your choice. You can also make your own. There are countless ideas on how to make one floating around the internet, including this free printable advent calendar that includes different activities for each day. We really like the idea of a kindness advent calendar where instead of receiving a treat, children can do an act of kindness everyday.

Baking: Pick out your favorite holiday treats and have a baking day. Baking is fun for children and can be a great learning experience. And of course eating the treats is equally fun. This one is very special because you can pass on your favorite recipes to your children to create a tradition that lasts generations. You can also decorate tins with your child, even add pictures, and hand them out as presents to family and friends.

Movie Night: Pick a night to watch some of your favorite holiday movies. Some of our favorites are Elf, Home Alone, The Polar Express, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story, The Grinch, and Klaus.  But there are countless wonderful family movies for the holidays. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be stressful, don’t forget to balance that out with what really matters. Spending time with loved ones.

Meals: There is something so special about creating traditions with the food we eat during the holidays. Having certain dishes and recipes that you only make during the holidays will make it even more memorable. Many children love cooking and helping in the kitchen. We understand that they can make more work, but just think of how proud they will be when they ae complimented for their yummy food.  Not to mention that allowing them in the kitchen will help children become more independent as they grow up.

Books: Pick your favorite holiday book that fits your family values, beliefs, and traditions and read it together every year. We love the books like The Night Before Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, The Magic of Friendship Snow, What Do You Celebrate, and Dasher. Our classes also love hearing stories related to holidays and traditions.

Family traditions are the thread that binds a family together. When you have strong traditions, it keeps you connected even when your children grow up. And they will have something to carry on with their own children. We want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season!

What are some of your favorite family traditions for the holidays?

How to Help Reluctant Readers Read

Reading is one of the most important things that children can do. Through reading, students gain a better vocabulary, spelling and writing skills develop, and reading comprehension improves. It does not matter what grade or reading level your child is at, setting time aside for reading is the best thing you can do to support them in becoming lifelong readers. 

Most children start learning how to read around the age of 6 or 7. Up until that point students are learning letters, phonics, and reading skills. In grades kindergarten through second grade, students are learning how to read. By the time they reach third grade, most children are reading independently and able to find books that interest them. 

There are many children who upon learning how to read, fall in love with it and will read everything and anything. However, every year in our classes, we encounter children who are reluctant readers. These children would rather do anything than read. They might be struggling with fluency or comprehension and therefore they believe that they cannot do it themselves. They might be distracted by other factors such as electronics, friends, or other activities. Or they simply might not have found their niche; what they love to read yet. 

Whatever the reason, there are a few things you can do as a parent to help reluctant readers become engaged readers. 

1) Start a Parent Child Book Club at home

Choose an engaging chapter book and read it aloud with your child. Take turns reading paragraphs or pages. By doing this, your child practices their own fluency and they are able to hear your pronunciation and enunciation of words. You can also ask questions as you read to help them with reading comprehension. These can be simple like, “What just happened in the story? What did the character mean?” Or more complex inferencing questions such as “What do you think will happen next? How did the character feel?” Spending time reading with your child will not only help your child become excited about reading, but it is a great way to spend quality time together.

2) Listen to Audio Books

Audio Books are a wonderful way to hook children into reading. Children love listening to stories, and by listening to books in the car or at home they can find an author, genre, or series they like. They can then find more books they are interested in reading that are similar to what they enjoyed listening to. Audible has many resources for kids. Their parent company Amazon, is also easy to navigate to find audio books. All You Can Books has many free audio books that work on different platforms. Scholastic Parent has many other audio book resources for audio books. 

3) Kindles

We have seen many children become discouraged by books simply by the size of the spine. They see a large book, and they immediately think that they cannot read that book because it is too big. They will not even consider reading it based on the size of it. That is what makes a Kindle an amazing tool. This basic Kindle is perfect for kids who are afraid of reading larger books, because they cannot see how big, or long, a book is. The Kindle also has other features that help readers such as text to voice, dictionary for unknown words, the ability to change the font size, parental controls, and a way to track how long children are reading. We love our own kindles, and think it is a great tool for children. 

4) Go to Libraries 

Libraries are amazing and free places to go with your child and explore. They can check out books to try out and if they don’t like them, you can return them and check more out. Libraries often have times for story times or activities designed to engage children, and we say take advantage of them. Talk to the librarians, who have a wealth of knowledge on books for children. They might have suggested books for age or grade groups that could help you out.

5) Find a Genre, Series, or Author

We believe that if a child is a reluctant reader, they simply haven’t found what they enjoy to read yet. Helping them find a genre, series of books, or author they love is paramount. Once they find what they enjoy to read, they will not want to put their books down.

6) Model Reading

If you have read our past posts, you know the importance of modeling. Children will learn more from what you do than what you preach. So, set time aside to read. Show them that reading is a fun and leisurely activity. When they read, take out your own book and read next to them. By showing them that reading is a big part of your life, they are more likely to read themselves.