Christmas is a magical time of year for every child – and indeed for parents – there is so much excitement and anticipation. It is also a wonderful time for many educational and fun activities whilst decorating the house and keeping the children busy and learning over the holidays.

Starting with perhaps a less obvious area – Christmas Maths! Let’s begin with advent – a perfect chance to reinforce maths, the counting down of the days to Christmas or sleeps left to Santa – subtracting one each day. There is also the chance to strengthen the understanding and use of money when buying presents – children can get involved in buying something themselves, giving the money to the shop assistant and depending on their age, calculating the change needed.

At Christmas, children also love joining in with cooking and baking, this is an ideal time to practise some practical maths. Children can help weigh out (and probably sample!) the ingredients. They can also practise telling the time and counting the minutes whilst the mince pies, Christmas cake or other Christmas goodies are in the oven. At school, children love doing ‘Christmas Maths’ – we pose problems relating to presents, elves, reindeer, the list is endless, this can easily be done at home too. Last but not least, Christmas is THE time for playing board games as a family and this is a wonderful way to support their numeracy skills – adding up the numbers on the dice is a good way of helping with number bonds and for young children this is a great way to reinforce 1:1 correspondence of number – for example, rolling the number six and counting out six steps on the board.

Christmas is also the perfect opportunity to explore an abundance of craft activities – there are so many wonderful ideas that will bring Christmas alive, many of which do not cost the earth – for example making beeswax candles or a decorated candle holder (using a jam jar), salt dough decorations for the tree, Christmas wreaths and tissue paper stained glass window decorations…there is so much to try!

Reading and writing at Christmas are also wonderful pastimes – starting with sending Christmas cards to friends (or perhaps invitations to your Christmas and New Year parties). Children love being able to send their own cards to classmates or to family and even if they are not yet able to write their name independently, they can feel part of the process by adding a picture. Next, of course, is writing their letter to Father Christmas – children have no problem at all in thinking of a long list of exciting toys they would like. I always encourage children to be polite in their letter – adding ‘please may I have’ before writing a list and thank you at the end, and perhaps adding a few questions for example, how are you and Mrs Christmas?, Are your elves busy? Still on the subject of lists – children love helping by writing lists and then ticking off the items as you buy – so if you have time, let your children ‘help’ with the Christmas shop.

After so much activity there is of course nothing better than to curl up in a chair by the fire and read a book all about Christmas – there are so many wonderful stories, but my personal top ten favourites are:

• The Jolly Christmas Postman (Janet and Allan Ahlberg)

• Percy the Park Keeper – One Snowy Night (Nick Butterworth)

• The Snowman (Raymond Briggs)

• Angelina’s Christmas (Katharine Holabird)

• The Night Before Christmas (Clement Moore)

• Mog’s Christmas (Judith Kerr)

• A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)

• The Little Match Girl (Hans Christian Anderson)

• Jesus’ Christmas Party (Nicholas Allan)

• Room for a Little One (Martin Waddell)

A handful of dressing up costumes will really enhance any re-telling of the Christmas story and provide endless creative possibilities for children and perhaps some inspiration for writing their own Christmas story.

At the Pre-Prep we are passionate about irresistible learning, making learning so exciting that children can’t wait to start!

I hope this has inspired and encouraged families to make the most of an educational Christmas break as well as

having a wonderful season of joy and peace. Happy Christmas!