Literacy during the school holidays


Several weeks away from teacher’s instruction can seem like a long time, especially if your child struggles with a certain fundamental subject like reading, writing or maths. Applying the lessons learned in the school environment to the ‘real’ world (i.e. life outside of school) will help consolidate those lessons in the child’s mind leading to a deeper understanding and ultimately a love of learning.

Literacy is practiced daily while your child attends schools whether it is reading, writing or listening to stories, poems etc. During the school break, it is easy to forget the importance of keeping up these skills with long days and late evenings of outdoor play, sports camps and general lazy days hanging out with friends and family (although these are so very important too!)

Here are some simple and fun ways to sneak in a bit of literacy practice into your child’s school holidays. I bet you’re probably doing some of them already!

Read Maps:

Ok, so maybe I’m showing my age with this suggestion. A more up-to-date way to find directions to get to your destination would be to log onto google maps or to use your Sat Nav. On your next journey, hand your device over to your child and assign them with the task of navigator. Entering points of destinations into the device (without using spellcheck if possible) will help them become familiar with names and spellings of areas in the country. A bit of literacy and a bit of geography too!

Read the Signs:

Take your time as you do your chores in town. Read as many signs as you can with your child. Give them the space and time to figure out what is written on posters, signs, brochures etc.

Visit the Library:

This may seem a little obvious but it might be a good idea to plan a visit to the local library on a regular basis. If the library is somewhere that you do not normally visit, pick a certain day per week to make your visit and stick to it! Take your time browsing all that is on offer and make time to either sit down with your child or let them sit alone and read. Some libraries run summer reading programmes where children are encouraged to discover new books and authors while joining in various activities like storytelling sessions and earning a fun certificate for their efforts. Check out your local library to see what they have organised.

Secret Notes:

For a fun literacy activity which will encourage creative writing, take turns writing notes/letters to each other and leaving them around the house for one another to find. These could be love letters, funny pieces or whatever you come up with. In our house I’m a bit of a scaredy pants so a spooky note about how a certain room is haunted (for example) has created a bit of entertainment here!

You could extend the fun in this activity by turning the search for the various notes into a treasure hunt, with clues (verbal or written) as to where they are hidden.

As we are trying to encourage creative writing here, it is important not to dwell on spelling or grammar mistakes and focus on content and imagination. This can be difficult, as we want our children to excel in all areas but if the focus is placed on proper punctuation and spelling, it will take from the free flow of imagination. You can always organise some fun spelling contests for another day, if you feel this area needs to be worked on. You can also set an example by using correct spelling, grammar etc. on the notes that you write for them to read.

Doodle Books:

This is another creative writing activity but it doesn’t require much involvement from you. Simply provide your children with a blank notebook/copy and a pencil/pen at the start of the summer break, they now have a Doodle Book to doodle in! This notebook is for them to fill with thoughts, ideas, illustrations or whatever they wish. A child of any age can enjoy a Doodle Book. Some 3 and 4 year olds will fill their mornings with illustrations and scribbles. Again, it is important not to highlight any grammatical mistakes. Ideally, you will have no input into what goes into the doodle book so that all that’s inside has come from their own head so that each doodle book is unique and something to be proud of.

Who knows, a doodle book full of the child’s own thoughts, ideas and stories could develop into their own little novel some day!

Fun Quiz:

Set up some simple fun quizzes during the holidays to keep the brain ticking over and the writing skills up to speed.

A Spelling Bee could be a fun competitive way of ensuring your children stay enthusiastic about correct spelling.

During a general knowledge quiz where the contestants must write down their answers, you could offer bonus points for neat writing or proper punctuation. Be careful to keep the fun in it though, they are on a school break 😉

As we are on a literacy theme, you could have a few quiz questions regarding authors and illustrators and poets. This would encourage them to take note of these so they are up to speed for the next quiz!

Don’t forget to exercise!:

It’s no secret that physical exercise is good for brain growth and development. No point in all these reading and writing activities if that wonderful muscle, that is the brain, isn’t being fed and strengthened. At least an hour of physical exercise per day should keep your child’s body and mind sharp.

For more school holiday ideas, check out maths during the holidays

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Olga ~ I really enjoyed your THOUGHTS & IDEAS, especially the Doodle books. These could be useful tools for children, when they are wrestling with ideas and feelings.

    For the second level students I tutor, I try to encourage keeping a Journal, & spending 10-20 minutes last thing at night, as often as possible, to records happenings of the day ~ good & bad ~ and how they felt about them. The aim is to encourage regular writing to help students become comfortable with the process of writing; to help with self-expression; to expand vocabulary as they describe emotions & reactions; to gain insight into their own lives as they work on their written descriptions and when they re-read previous entries; plus, very importantly, to have a space in which they can off-load unpleasant experiences (or wonderful ones) by writing them down, including describing the mix of emotions felt, while they are still fresh & vivid. This habit assists people of all ages to expel the nasty feelings that can go around in the head on a loop leading to agitation, and prevent a good night’s sleep. It can lighten the burden of some difficult emotions by using the Journal as a release valve.

  2. Olga says:

    Wonderful idea with your second level kids. A nice bit of writing therapy there 🙂

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