A vacation from school shouldn't mean a vacation from learning, local educators say. But it can be done in a way where kids don't associate a holiday vacation with schoolwork.
It can be as easy as breaking out that new board game or card game and making a family night, said Lisa Shore, a fourth-grade teacher at Chandler's Fulton Elementary School.
"I would say if you could do a little bit of each day next week, not force it, but make it fun, sharpening their minds and getting their minds back in the game for school," Shore said. "It is a vacation for them and ... I'm sure the kids don't want to be doing school stuff, yet."
The important thing, Shore said, is for parents to weigh ways for their children to interact with others. That may mean turning off the computer or a new Wii game for a while or reading new books 15 minutes a day.
It could even mean getting out of the house and to a local museum, said Heather Noto, a teacher with Arizona Connections Academy, a virtual school for kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
"During visits to a museum, learning about whatever the museum has is good to stretch their minds," Noto said. "A lot of the museums have a docent who will give the kids a tour and teach them about whatever the (subject) is."
It's especially good if students can link school learning to a museum's exhibit, Noto said. If they're learning about dinosaurs, try a dinosaur exhibit. If they're learning about U.S. history, find a museum that explores that, she said.
Even if you're traveling out of town or have just gotten back from a trip, there are activities to get children reading and writing.
Before a trip, have the child look up where the family is going. Explore the history.
Find places to visit. Calculate the mileage to get there, Shore said.
While on the trip, have a child write what he or she sees. If the child is too young to write, he or she can draw a picture about a favorite spot or event.
"Community service is always a nice way to get out of the video games and DVD rut, even if it just means picking up garbage at a local park, greenbelt, or tidying up the neighborhood with a family walk," said Chandler Unified School District spokesman Terry Locke.
"We have a rule in our family that wherever we go we leave the place better than we found it, meaning we pick up all of our stuff, as well as a few other things that were there before we arrived."
Shore said she adopts a similar practice. She asks her kids to pick up a few pieces of trash before they start to play at the park.
Even sleeping routines may need to be put back into place after a few days off, Shore said. But mostly, once school starts in the new year, kids are able to jump back into their schedules.
"I think kids are resilient those first few days back at school," Shore said. "They're sluggish, but they're excited to see their friends. They're really excited to go back to school whether they say that or not. I don't think that it's too much for parents to worry about."