• How to make the most of time at home over the Christmas break

    It’s that time of the year again! The Christmas holidays are underway, the advent calendars are out and the lights have gone up. But as December cheer rolls on it can quickly turn from the most wonderful time of the year, into the most stressful time of the year. Not to mention the new restrictions on leaving home and finding social activities to engage in, it will be so important to get prepared for more time spent indoors.

    So, if you’re struggling to stay productive this year: don’t worry. We are all in this together and you are most certainly not alone. We have been in contact with our education experts, Simon and Jacqui Northcote-Green of Holland Park Education. Between them, Simon and Jacqui have over 20 years of teaching experience, bringing 10 years of examination and school reports specialism to the table. They have an extensive school network for us to utilise for in person letters of recommendations – with direct contact to the decision makers at the highest schools across the UK.

    First and foremost, it is important to establish that both Simon and Jacqui are big advocates about the importance of having a cut off from work and revision, where children can recharge and digest all the learning that has happened thus far. That being said, it is important not to let this extend too long.

    To help the cross over, Simon and Jacqui have presented to us some small everyday tips that you can do with your children to keep them in the right mindset this Christmas!

    1. Establish a smart routine which allows for some relaxation/ recreation.

    This is key, no matter who you are, or indeed what stage of life you are at, parent or child – having a good routine that manages your time effectively and is achievable is key to having a good productive day. We are all creatures of habit and being able to structure our day helps bring order to our lives, particularly important during this time of uncertainty. From personal experience, starting the day with a short walk, ideal for the dog owners amongst us, is a great way to start your day and clear your mind.

    2. It is important that in creating a routine you do so in partnership with your child.

    It’s a collaborative experience. Always try to empathise with your child and ask yourself how you would feel being put in that same situation or having such a routine, particularly at their age.

    3. Ask your child short revision questions, which can be tested by another member of the family.

    This is great to do around the dinner table. Particularly if you are able to turn this into a game where the loser gets another serving of sprouts – it helps make the revision less daunting for everyone.

    4. Try and get ‘work’ done in the morning.

    This is a great habit to get into. Even though our London Office is diverse and international, we find that we are all at our most productive in the morning, and I’m sure you do too! Your child might at the stage where they find it difficult to start work early in the morning (it is dark at this time of the year!). But, the structure of the school day with lessons in the morning and games and sports in the afternoon is designed around getting work done in the morning. Keep up this habit during the holiday and you will find it makes getting back in the routine after Christmas all the easier.

    5. Play family trivial pursuits, chess and other board games such as Scrabble or watch the Blue Planet and try reading Junior Week.

    These are fun, stimulating activities that can be shared together.

    Developing your children’s social skills is almost as important as their academic work. Remember most schools will require children to conduct interviews as part of their admissions process. Encourage confidence and love of interactions in a fun environment and see how it relaxes and brings everyone together. From a personal perspective, I cannot recommend highly enough the Blue Planet series – give it a watch.

    6. Play memory games – items on a tray.

    This is another game that I can personally vouch for. As I am sure you have also found, remembering key pieces of information and being able to effectively relay it is a key part of the 21st-century working environment. Throughout my educational experience, nothing has aided me more than being able to remember key pieces of information. Try out different techniques to see how you remember best – are you a sensory learner? Do you prefer acting it out, teaching others, reading alone, listening to podcasts or writing it down?

    7. Interview grandparents about their memories of childhood,  or perhaps their best and worst Christmas presents…

    A brilliant game that is sure to put a smile on any grandparent’s face. It is also important here to also consider adding in an analytical element and encourage your children to begin asking why that might be the case.

    8. Read or listen to the same book and discuss the characters, predict the narrative development and discuss possible outcomes or alternative endings.

    As a huge Harry Potter fan, this is something I do regularly and have found it to stimulate creative thinking, encourage children to think outside of the original story and imagination their own stories. After all, had the Sorting Hat put Harry in Slytherin how might the story have changed?

    9. Research your ancestry and family tree.

    This is a great skill to bring up during the dreaded ‘what did you achieve during lockdown’ interview question. Involve the whole family and discover the longest cousins and random Irish Granny we all seem to have!


    For more information on how we can support your family, please email kate.f@hollandparkeducation.com

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