Tips for Staying on Track with Schoolwork During Winter Break

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

Winter break is a well-timed reprieve from the daily grind of school, and most students are eager to sleep in, spend time with friends and put the entire thought of school to the back of their minds. However, there’s a chance that your child might have some homework over winter break. If your child attends a school that ends its term after winter break, the homework might involve studying for final exams or completing end-of-semester projects. Sometimes teachers assign homework that is designed to keep students’ minds fresh, so they do not lose skills and are ready to pick up where they left off when school resumes again in a few weeks.  

Whatever the situation, if your student does have winter break homework to do, here are a few tips for keeping them on track: 

  • Let them enjoy a true break for a few days. Even if your student needs to study or do homework or other projects during winter break, remember that they still need a moment to breathe.  For at least a few days, let your child unwind and relax. That mental break is important for rejuvenating their mind and body. If your family celebrates a holiday that falls during winter break and you’re taking time off as well, enjoy that time together. Resist the urge to require productivity on their first day off school.  
  • Set goals. Once your student has had time to recharge, they should set goals for themselves, which will help them stay focused and motivated. Some students might be catching up on missing work that will help them raise their grades, while others might be working on projects due in January. Remind your child: goals are good! They will help your child take an organized approach to doing what they need to do and avoid the stress that comes with procrastination.  
  • Create a schedule. A schedule will reduce any feelings of dread that might arise from the very idea of doing homework while on “vacation.” Sit down with your child to create a realistic schedule that is appropriate for their grade and age (and amount of work they need to complete). An elementary school child might be assigned nightly reading and a math or writing packet over winter break. Break down the packet into smaller chunks so that the work is manageable—perhaps 10 minutes a day each morning and 30 minutes of reading in the evening. A middle or high school student who has more winter break homework might develop a more detailed schedule. For example, if studying for finals when they return to school in January, they could break down their schedule by subject and by day, so that they spend 20-60 minutes a day studying—leaving plenty of free time to enjoy the rest of their time off school.  
  • Develop a plan to address issues. Some students might not have homework or studying to do over winter break, but if the first semester of the school year was difficult, winter break is an opportunity to deal with any lingering academic issues. Huntington can help your child address areas that were a challenge throughout the semester and create a plan to strengthen skills to make next year (and the next term) better. Mounting frustration stemming from school struggles can lead to low motivation, so it might take some convincing, but using winter break to catch up, rebuild skills or all of the above is worth the effort. Your child will return to school feeling much more engaged, positive and ready to finish the second half of the year strong.  

One final suggestion: if you have a high school student who is planning to take the SAT or ACT in the new year, consider having them use this down time to their advantage by signing up for an SAT/ACT test prep program with Huntington. Strong SAT/ACT scores can strengthen students’ college applications, earning your student admission and scholarships to their top college choices.  

Whether you have a college-bound student who is taking the SAT or ACT soon or a younger student who would benefit from customized, one-to-one tutoring in one or more subjects, Huntington can work with your child during winter break—around your family’s schedule. Call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN to find out how we can support your child’s academic journey, wherever they are.