CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While it’s good for students to take time off from school, officials with the West Virginia Department of Education say it’s important to keep your child’s mind active during this holiday break.

“Students need a break from that, but they don’t need a break from that really rich conversation,” said Teresa Hammond, assistant director of early learning at the WV DOE.

Long periods of time off from school can lead your child to lose some valuable skills, Hammond said, which can also be referred to as “brain drain.”

“If you go away from the job you’ve been doing for an extended amount of time and you come back to it and you have to kind of regroup and maybe retrain your brain to do things,” she explained.

Hammond said “brain drain” can affect students, especially if parents don’t keep current with vocabulary their children are using in school.

Becky Butler, assistant director of middle and secondary learning at the WV DOE, said there are a number of fun ways to keep a child’s mind active.

“Even something as simple as a walk can keep that brain engaged, but it is still a break from book study,” Butler said. “You don’t have to say your multiplication table to me everyday, but instead you can find find ways that the students can enjoy.”

The state Department of Education has a website for families through the West Virginia College and Career Readiness program that offers links to activities for families to do online.

(wvde.state.wv.us)

Some other ways to avoid “brain drain” this holiday season are to get your children to help out in the kitchen.

“Children can help cook,” Hammond said. “It’s a wonderful way for them to learn their fractions.”

By going to the grocery store, Hammond said younger children can learn about different foods to purchase. For middle and high school students, she said parents can have their kids learn to calculate a budget.

Children learn best by doing things over and over again in a repetitive process, Hammond said.

“Even for those middle and high school students, that is very comforting and it reinforces skill,” she said.

Hammond said engagement doesn’t necessary mean sending your child to his or her room to read for hours, but instead, it’s best to stay active to exercise their brains as it does for them to exercise their bodies.

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