In This Issue
Holiday Preparation Checklist

Your kiddos can help prepare for the holiday season. We've designed a great checklist to "think organized" during this fun (and chaotic) season.  

CLICK HERE to download the ultimate holiday preparation checklist. 
Getting Rid of Boredom with Board Games

As the days turn darker earlier and the temperature plummets, many families are starting to spend more time inside instead of going out to brave the chilly weather. Boredom can set in quickly when children are stuck in the house without their bikes, sidewalk chalk, or sports equipment to keep them occupied. Luckily, there are plenty of equally as fun board games to add some excitement to indoor playtime. As a bonus, the games suggested below all help build executive functioning skills!


Skills required : sequential searching, working memory, mental speed, visual-spatial processing, concentration, processing speed

The object of this game is to create a set of three cards from twelve cards that are face-up on the table. Each card has four features to pay attention to- shape, color, number, and shading. A set consists of three cards in which each of the cards' features, looked at one-by-one, are the same on each card, or, are different on each card. This is a fun game for kids ages six and up and it can be played with one or more people.

Skills required : organization, flexible thinking, planning, prioritizing

To play Quiddler, participants receive a stack of letter cards. They must try to create as many short words as possible using the cards, and as the game goes on players get more cards so that they can build multiple short words or single longer words. Players test their flexible thinking skills as they try to come up with as many different letter combinations as possible to create words. This game is good for ages 8 and up and can be played with up to seven other players. It also comes in a Junior version for younger students.

Skills required : reasoning, planning, problem solving

In this game, players have to be flexible in switching between a defensive and offensive mindset to outwit their opponent. The object of the game is to navigate through "corridors" that your opponent creates in order to advance to the opposite side of the board. With each move, a player either moves his or her token or places a piece of barrier that will foil the opponent. Each player is only allowed 10 barriers, which requires careful planning and problem solving.

December  2019
Executive Functioning and the Winter Holidays
With the winter holidays about to roll around, children (and even adults!) are looking forward to days of pure relaxation. While it is important for students to use this time off to recharge, it is also crucial that they continue to strengthen their executive functioning skills so that they will seamlessly transition back to a regular school day when the new year starts.

Younger children tend to be balls of energy, so use that to their advantage! There are several hands-on activities they can participate in that will allow them to develop their executive functioning skills in fun ways.

Holiday Meals.  As you are preparing the holiday meal, involve your children in the process. From making lists of ingredients that need to be purchased to creating a schedule for when food will be served, this is a great way for your children to develop their organization and time management skills.

Role-play . Children sometimes lack a filter and say things that may be construed as insulting. For example, if a child receives a gift that she dislikes, she may say so to the gift-giver. To prepare for these situations, role-play with your children so that they can practice flexible thinking and social pragmatic skills. Have your child brainstorm possible scenarios that may arise and identify what types of behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate. 

Maintain routines.  Over the holidays, many children stray from their usual routines since they lack the structure of school. Changing their schedules for 1-2 weeks can make it difficult for them to get back into their regular rhythm, so challenge your children to maintain a routine -- but with a twist. When they wake up at 9am, they can help decorate or bake delicious cookies.

Many high school students see little of the sun over winter break, as they spend their time catching up on hours of missed sleep. In the brief periods that they are awake, there are some key tasks they should complete so that their executive functioning skills remain sharp.

College Prep.  It is never too early to start preparing for college, whether that means researching schools to see if they offer a major your child is interested in, setting up a campus visit, or even beginning the application process. Your children can create lists of what they are looking for in a potential college and keep track of which schools meet these criteria. They can also jot down school-visit dates as well as admission deadlines so that they have a clear sense of the timeline associated with a given college. 

Traveling.  If you are traveling for the holidays, ask your older children to help plan out the route. They can compare multiple routes to choose the most efficient one, identify restaurants and gas stations to stop at, and decide what time the family should head out. If your children are really ambitious and have the proper paperwork, they can even drive for parts of the trip to get firsthand experience of how you have to take into account things like traffic and weather when you are trying to travel somewhere and arrive there at a specific time. 

Goal-setting.  The relative quiet of the holidays offers your children the perfect time to reflect on how the first half of the school year has gone and to set goals for the second half. Encourage your children to first think about the things they are proud of, and then have them identify areas for improvement and the steps they can take to improve. For example, if your child struggled with English essays, perhaps he can set a goal for meeting with his teacher at several points during the writing process and beginning the essay well in advance of deadlines.

Most college students prefer to just sleep and eat when the semester ends, and we do not blame them! College classes move at a much faster pace than high school ones, and students need to relax to feel motivated for the new semester. However, making the most of your college career is crucial to success beyond school, and college students need to use their winter break to their advantage.

Job searching.  Sometimes, college students need actual experience in the field to supplement studies in their major. Winter break offers the perfect chance for your children to search for part-time jobs or internships in their intended field so that they can have hands-on experience and better determine what they want to study. As they search for these opportunities, they should keep a running list of their options along with deadlines for when they need to submit cover letters, resumes, etc. 

Creating a 4-Year Plan.  If your children know without a shadow of a doubt what they want to study in college, encourage them to create a 4-year plan that maps out what classes they should ideally take each semester, what requirements these classes fulfill, and how many credits they receive for each class. By doing so, your children will have a visual road map and avoid the panic of trying to figure out which classes to register for each semester. Additionally, your children can also use their 4-year plan to determine when they should start sending out job application or grad school applications so that they strengthen their long-term planning skills.

Life skills.  Let's face it: high school does not always prepare students to live on their own. Many college students do not know how to cook, balance a budget, or make their own doctor appointments. Over winter break, prioritize some of these skills and work on them with your children! Modeling is a valuable tool, and the low-stakes nature of learning these tasks at home with support as opposed to on their own can make your children feel more comfortable with making mistakes and asking questions. 

Relaxation is a must for the winter holidays, but it is also important that your children engage in activities that will allow them to keep strengthening their executive functioning skills. No matter how old your children are, encourage them to use their time off from school to practice thinking organized!