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How to Incorporate Learning into Holiday Traditions

The Florida Office of Early Learning has divided up different areas that are vital to a child’s early childhood education into seven domains. Each domain contributes to a child’s success in both life and school. If your child attends an early learning program, these are standards they are developing in child care each day. But the learning should continue at home — parents and guardians have an active role as a teacher, too!

We’ve summarized each domain to help you see how different skills and concepts contribute to your child’s developing brain, as well as activities you can do together during this holiday season. To learn more, visit

Physical Development

Your child uses gross motor skills every day, which require controlling large muscles of the body. Gross motor skills are the stepping-stones to many of our favorite activities and more complex skills, but they’re also important functions of basic movements like getting out of bed, getting in a car or getting dressed without falling over!

Practicing gross motor skills helps your child learn balance and coordination.

Activity: Go ice skating using wax paper as ice skates or waddle though your home like a penguin (set up obstacles along the way)!

Social and Emotional Development

Social Emotional skills are the skills we use every day to interact with each other, manage our emotions and behaviors, make decisions and set goals.

Self-awareness and self-management are important for their academic success as well as their success in relationships throughout their life, and children learn these skills from interactions with the grown-ups who are a part of their life. Be present when you talk to your child and others, celebrate with them when they achieve something and help them identify feelings and name them so they can express themselves.

Activity:  Try “calm down” yoga to help children learn to reflect inward and manage their feelings. Create greeting cards for others or even start a daily affirmation and feelings journal.

Language & Literacy

Early literacy is the knowledge children develop about reading and writing, even before they can read or write. Early literacy includes talking, singing, learning to hold a book, turning pages, and more. This developmental area is important for developing children’s brains for reading as they grow up! Having conversations with them, even about basic tasks at home, helps them expand their vocabulary.

Activities: Read your favorite holiday story and ask your child questions about what they heard.  Create holiday wish list, create holiday decorations and talk about the project as you are doing it together and don’t forget to sing  your favorite tunes.

Scientific Inquiry, Approaches to Learning, & Mathematical Thinking

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Those sound like complicated subjects for a young child, but STEM includes basic counting, recognizing shapes and patterns, telling time or the weather, and recognizing different animals, plants and bugs. Children are natural born scientists and are always wanting to explore how things work. Don’t forget to foster that curiosity and let them tinker.

Activity: Create a Florida Snowman with frozen water balloons and time how long it takes to melt.

Social Studies

Social studies in child development means children developing a sense of themselves, their family and cultural traditions, and their community. Answering their “why” questions helps your child learn! Asking questions is part of how a child learn about themselves and the world around them.

Activity: Start a conversation about your family’s traditions, what happens around your community or neighborhood at this time of year. Keep it simple, like special foods that are cooked or family traditions.

Creative Expression through the Arts

Arts is just that arts. Music, dance, creative, theater etc. Children begin the journey into arts the minute they pick up a writing utensil and scribble or bop their bodies to music. Exposing them to various forms of art also help to develop a larger appreciation of various cultures and history.

Activity: For the holidays let your child create a drawing, song or dance on how the holidays make them feel. Many of the other domain activities include creative expression, too!


*Photos provided by The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County

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