How the Holidays Affect Children’s Learning

December 29th, 2020

It’s the season for cheer and smiles! The weeks without school appear to be a joyful time for children and families but spikes in depression rates and holiday-related issues continue to persist. Do lengthy holidays, like the winter break, cause more harm than help for our children? The answer is a little more complex than you think.

Is Kids’ Mental Health Declining in the Winter Break?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is a complete myth that’s perpetuated by half of the articles released by media during the quarter. Statistics show that suicide rates are at the lowest, annually, in December and there has been no indication of a rising trend in years.

Winter blues are much more likely, however. It’s the feeling of resentment caused by the weather for short days and dark mornings. These last a short time and go away on their own. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is different because it’s classified as a seasonal depression, which requires professional treatment.

When your kids are home for the winter break, keep an eye out for symptoms, namely, if they withdraw from activities they normally enjoy, avoid socialization, crave comfort foods but also have less appetite, and are anxious or temperamental.

Before the Holidays

Before Christmas break officially begins, children are already in holiday mode. Some have their heads in the clouds, while those with less than desirable home conditions wonder about how to survive without their school lunch. For some families, school is a place that offers emotional support and constant sustenance for their kids.

The National School Lunch Program provides free meals to students, which encourages attendance but does little to help for days when there are no classes. Not having the free school lunch daily provides a constant yearly stress for these children.

During the Holidays

These less fortunate kids also have a harder time catching up with other kids belonging to the middle- and upper-class once school resumes. The latter spend their extra time productively through winter activities for kids, such as trips to museums and other forms of recreation. These make holidays enriching periods for holistic development.

However, children without the monetary means, living in struggling and unhappy homes, don’t have these experiences to further develop their minds. By the time they go back to school, their learnings have diminished significantly without the structure, repetition, and professional guidance they need. The holidays are a stressful and unpleasant period for these kids.

 

What Can Be Done to Help Everyone?

Holiday breaks have long been based on cultural practices of the local area or country. Educators and the government should review the effectiveness of these vacations to reform the system or make legislations that provide equity for all. Christmas break, summer break, and other holidays, whether short or long, should be enjoyed by everyone.