The Thirty One Days of December

December 1st   Check the school website for all the holiday activities – band and choir concerts, class parties, holiday plays and assemblies, madrigal dinners, parades. Put them on the family calendar. Plan to attend.

December 2nd   Think about including some books in the holiday gift sack. You can get age-appropriate recommendations from the school librarian, the local children’s librarian, or online. Several sites offer guides to good literature for children, including Reading Rockets, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and Scholastic.

December 3rd   Send a note to the teacher offering to help out at school this month. The teacher might need a volunteer to help the class make holiday cards for parents, or someone to bring goodies to the class party. The principal might need parents to supervise students marching in the Christmas parade. The school social worker might need help with the Angel Tree. Special activities need extra pairs of hands.

December 4th   Check the class website (or ask the teacher) for missed assignments and projects that are due. There’s still time to get those in before the end of the year, and it’s no fun to have make-up work over the holidays.

December 5th   Do you have a 529 College Savings Plan for your children? That’s an excellent way for grandparents and extended family to give your children a meaningful gift every year – a gift for their future. Look it up, do some research, and sign up!

December 6th   Participate in any opportunities your family has to experience the joy of giving. Many schools have an Angel Tree, or another program for gift and food donations to families in need. There are also opportunities at church and in the community.

December 7th   Talk with your children about appropriate teacher gifts for this year.  Most teachers enjoy a handmade card, a note of appreciation, a plate of cookies, a book for the classroom, or a small donation to the school library. Make a decision, and let your child be responsible for making and giving the gift.

December 8th   Bake some holiday cookies together! Let your children read the recipes, do the measuring, set the oven temperature, and time the baking. Feel good about working in some reading comprehension and math concepts! Share the cookies with family and friends.

December 9th   Let the kids help wrap gifts this year! Gift-wrapping is an artistic activity and a fine motor activity, all wrapped up into one bundle of holiday fun.

December 10th   Pull out all the classic Christmas stories – or the classics from your family’s holiday traditions – and spend some time reading them together as a family. Try to read together every night. Let everyone take a turn – even a little one can talk about the pictures.

December 11th   Are you going to travel during the Christmas break? Let the kids plan the trip this year! What are the alternate routes? Who can read the map? How far away is the destination and how much money needs to be budgeted for gas? How long will it take to get there? Where should the family stop for food and gas? Are there any interesting sights along the way? Think of it as applied math and geography!

December 12th   Pick out a holiday play or choral reading, and plan to work on it as a family. Reader’s Theater and Choral Reading are both excellent ways to work on reading fluency while having fun. Google Reader’s Theater for Christmas or Holiday Choral Reading for scripts and ideas.

December 13th   Check on school supplies and homework supplies. What needs to be replenished? Pick up what you need when you’re out shopping, and get restocked for 2013. If you can, buy some extra supplies for the class while you’re at it.

December 14th   Go by school to pick up your child and share holiday greetings with the teacher. Take the opportunity to check out the desk and the locker, and supervise some clean up. There’s no telling what you’ll find in there!

December 15th   Is there an old family tradition from your childhood that your kids don’t know about? Share that family history with stories and pictures. Involve grandparents and other extended family if possible. Ask older children to do an oral history with elderly family members. See if your children would like to give some of the old traditions a try.

December 16th   Do your children know the words to the traditional Christmas carols and holiday songs? Sing together as a family – at home, in the community, at church. Can anyone in the family play the piano? Host a carol sing for friends and family!

December 17th   Check out the blue jeans, the shoes, and the church clothes.  Is anything too small? After-holiday sales are a good opportunity to replace outgrown clothes and shoes. It’s also a good time to get equipment for Winter and Spring sports. Make a list.

December 18th   If you have young children at school, remember to drop off an extra set of clothes that is suitable to the season. Write your child’s name in his jacket!

December 19th   Do you have up-to-date contact information on file in the office at your child’s school? If you have moved, changed phone numbers, or changed jobs, be sure that the teacher knows how to reach you or another family member during the school day.  This is a safety concern!

December 20th   Help your children make or buy small gifts for family and friends. Let them help select and wrap gifts for extended family members. Read “The Gift of the Magi”, a short story by O. Henry about giving and receiving gifts.

December 21st   First day of Winter! Celebrate with a cup of hot chocolate and a favorite family holiday movie. Talk about the movie afterwards.

December 22nd   School is out for a week or two, so let’s clean up the backpack and the lunch box and get them ready to go for 2014. Weigh your child’s backpack before it gets cleaned out. If it weighs more than 15% of your child’s body weight, it’s too heavy.

December 23rd   During this time of gift-giving, take some time to think about the gifts that your children bring to the world. Everybody has a gift. What can you do to give your children opportunities to explore their interests and develop their gifts?

December 24th   Christmas Eve is a time for family and, for many, for worship. Read the Christmas story aloud, if that is your religious tradition, or read “The Night Before Christmas” or “A Christmas Carol” as a family.

December 25th   Merry Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!! Perform your family Choral Reading or Reader’s Theater piece. Make a video and send it to family and friends. Go viral!

December 26th   Happy Kwanzaa! This week-long celebration of African-American heritage and culture is fairly new to the holiday scene and is celebrated in many communities. It’s another opportunity to think about our nation’s history and all the contributions that have been made to our melting pot.

December 27th   The tradition of writing thank you notes is endangered, but we can save it! Thank you notes are a simple courtesy that is much appreciated by family and friends.  Even little kids can express their appreciation for being remembered during the holiday season. Start writing them today.

December 28th   Ask the kids to plan a family activity for the weekend. Take a hike, visit an historical site, help in a soup kitchen, cook and freeze dinners for January, play a board game or a card game, visit a relative or family friend in the nursing home – something a little different from usual, and something that reflects your family values.

December 29th   Look at your calendar and pick out some days you could save time to eat lunch with your child. Pencil it in!

December 30th   Review your family morning routine, evening routine, and homework routine. How are these routines working? What do you need to tweak? Do your children arrive at school on time every morning, fed and rested, with homework done and backpacks ready? If not, make that your New Year’s resolution!

December 31st   We usually think of New Year’s Eve in connection with adult parties, but many families have their own traditions for seeing the New Year in. Sit down and talk about New Year’s resolutions. Encourage your kids to keep a journal this year – writing just a little bit every night before bed.  And if they can stay awake, watch the ball drop in Times Square.

Welcome to 2014!

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