Tips to prevent holiday brain drain over the break

Most Middle Georgia students shed their books immediately after the school bell rang Friday, kicking off winter break and giving way to video-game and television marathons across the midstate.

Bibb County students won’t return to the classroom until Jan. 6.

Although there’s no research to suggest that students will forget much of what they’ve learned this school year while they’re on a two- to three-week vacation, experts say students should still stay engaged in learning while they’re at home.

“My sense is that two to three weeks would have little or no effect on students’ ” learning loss, said Duke University professor Harris Cooper, an expert on summer learning loss, which he says happens when students are out of school for months at a time.

Children are learning all the time.

“The question for adults is, what is it that they are learning?” he asked.

Here are some tips from midstate educators to keep students engaged during the holiday break.

For elementary school students:

1) Break out the multiplication, time and money flash cards. Tucker Elementary students each got cards to take home to practice during the holiday break.

— Tucker Elementary principal Kim Halstead.

2) When you watch television with your children, ask them the purpose of the show. Is it to persuade, inform or entertain? Discuss the characters and their motives. During baking, discuss cause and effect and, for math practice, have children try doubling the recipe and figure baking times. You may even want to set the television to display captions to help with word recognition.

— Matt Arthur Elementary principal Jolie DeLoreto Hardin and Becky Greene, media specialist at Alexander II Magnet School.

3) Ask your child to read a book, provide a summary and then write an alternate ending. Have them keep a journal about their view of life, a special event or a special person.

— Sue Adams, fifth-grade teacher at Alexander II Magnet School

4) For kindergarten and first-grade children, read books that focus on color names, animals, letters and counting.

— Precious Jones, instructional coach at Alexander II Magnet School

5) Have children practice writing numbers, the alphabet and sight words, and also review the work brought home earlier in the school year.

— Bennie Moore, kindergarten teacher, Bruce Elementary

6) Cut up old magazines and make up books or stories.

— Michi Dunmon, special education teacher, Lake Joy Primary

For middle school students:

1) Take newspaper articles or comic strips and cut them up and label the back with a code. Place them in a baggie, and then have the child piece them together to make sense of the story.

— Rodney C. Johnson, reading remediation teacher, Huntington Middle

2) Use your child’s old tests or quizzes and ask them a question of the day, as a review. Keep a tally for right answers and offer a reward.

— Christie Harp, sixth-grade language arts teacher, Bonaire Middle School

3) Visit an educational math Web site, such as

— Karen Yeager, sixth- and seventh-grade honors math, Huntington Middle

For high school students:

1) If you’re going out of town, encourage your child to brush up on research skills. Ask them to find five things they didn’t know about the place they’re visiting.

— Megan King, Spanish teacher, Houston County High School

2) Watch shows such as “MythBusters” that teach about physical science. It piques their interest and gives good discussion points when class resumes.

— Graquetta Harris, science chair, Mary Persons High School

3) A lesson in genetics. During family gatherings, observe your family members and relatives to compare and contrast their physical traits, such as eye color, shape of head, eyes and chin, skin color, height, widow’s peak, dimples and freckles. Note which traits you inherited.

— Felicia Richardson, biology teacher, Mary Persons High School

4) Juniors and seniors can prepare for Georgia High School Graduation Tests at or

— Betty Hill, guidance counselor, Howard High School

5) Buy gifts that “get your child moving” such as a Wii, which now comes with fitness games. Other gifts, such as brain-stimulating board games, are good too. Check out Cranium, Trivial Pursuit or Are you Smarter than a Fifth- Grader? and play them with your family.

— Karen Yarbrough, principal, Howard High School

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.