The holiday season is upon us and school’s out for winter break. Getting out of our routine can offer opportunity, as well as challenge. Here are some tips to deal with some of the challenges and embrace the opportunities.

Father and little son assemble a jigsaw puzzle together.

  1. Post a family calendar and keep it up to date. Given that time is very conceptual in nature, understanding (and managing) it can be challenging for many children and teens with learning disabilities. Find time each day to review and discuss the day’s and upcoming activities. Perhaps color code individual family member’s activities on the calendar for quick reference.
  2. Once you’ve discussed the upcoming activities, the next step will be to problem-solve how you will manage to smoothly execute those activities. For our kids with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, time management and organization can be a real stumbling block to success. Lay out a plan. Maybe have a white board with the day’s schedule written on it. I am a big believer in setting a timer to help me stay on track.
  3. And then, be flexible because you know that odds are something will go awry. We all need to learn to adjust—re-frame, re-focus, (forgive), and move forward. Take a deep breath, erase the board, and draft a new plan.
  4. Importantly, put some family fun time into your schedule. Watching a holiday movie together, reading a story, or playing a game can provide time to not only relax, but also opportunity to engage in discussion with your kids. Games such as Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, Boggle, Catch Phrase, Guess Who, Last Word, Password, Pictionary, Quiddler, Scattergories, Scrabble, Taboo, UpWords, and Whoonu, as well as 20 Questions and I Spy, encourage and foster spoken language, reading, and/or spelling. When necessary, adjust the rules of the game so that your children meet with success and have fun.
  5. Find time to foster you child’s strengths through engagement in activities in which he or she enjoys and excels. Maybe visit the local art center to create something new or hit the local ice rink. If you are lucky enough to live in the snowy north, grab those sleds, skis, and snow saucers and find the nearest hill!
  6. This time of year is a great time to expose your child to life experiences that will enhance his or her “world” knowledge and “word” knowledge (i.e., vocabulary). A large corpus of experiences acquired through engaging in life’s activities builds one’s understanding about one’s culture, as well as the natural world. These understandings are critical to reading comprehension and aid us in making inferences when we read. They also give us more to write about. Head to your local historical or hands-on museum, library, zoo, park, or nature area. While there collect flyers or pamphlets to talk about when you get home. And, don’t forget to take those photos for the journal or scrapbook you and your kids will start when you get home while drinking a nice hot cup of cocoa.

Importantly, make the most of these times together! I wish you a happy and safe end of 2017 and start to 2018!