As the holiday season approaches some parents begin to worry that time away from more formal educational practice, especially in the classroom, will curtail their child’s academic progress for the duration.

However, it’s becoming apparent that the opposite could be true and that a wide range of other activities in children’s daily lives promote intellectual development as much as the academic ones do.

There’s an interesting viewpoint here about holidays which touches on the subject.

There is also evidence of this from the home educating community. Thousands of parents now homeschool, but most of these families spend a much smaller percentage of time on formal academic exercises than schools do. They focus instead on a mixture of activities from the physical to the creative, which promote a healthy, well rounded education and motivated children. These children go on to polish up their academic skills, like perhaps those used for exams, when needed and go on to achieve good grades.

If children are engaged, stimulated, active and busy with a variety of activities then these contribute to their intellectual development as much as formal study does. In fact, variety and diversity have the added benefits of by-passing the danger of youngsters becoming stale and switched off by too much formal learning.

The types of activities children and families might engage in over the holiday season which promote development could be: –

  • Any exploration, investigation, experimentation, or new experiences which feed curiosity, as curiosity is a pre-cursor for learning
  • Play, especially constructive play like building with sets or improvised materials, role play, inventive play, story making, den making, or anything which involves the imagination
  • Gaming also has its place, along with music, playing an instrument – real or virtual, and music making, film making, or creating podcasts etc
  • Any creative activities such as drawing, making, crafting, designing, modelling, building, whether real or online. Variety of experience is key
  • Physical activities of any kind, sports (which don’t have to be competitive), dance, hiking, swimming, whatever the family enjoys. Greater understanding of our brains is beginning to show that physical activity is just as vital to intellectual development as mental activity. And they have the added benefit of building confidence and enhancing well being.

The more diverse the experiences and activities the youngsters are engaged in the more benefits they have, particularly those which provide challenges and encourage them beyond their comfort zones.

All these activities contribute to extending skills and knowledge and intellectual agility, vital for educational development, even though they take place outside school. The holiday season is the perfect opportunity for families to encourage them.



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Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.