What to do over the LONG winter break!!!

Schools are letting out this week for an extended break. For parents who work, or those who are at home—it is stressful to figure what to do (or not do) when school is out.

Family Service of Roanoke Valley provides life skills education to students from elementary school through high school to help with positive decision making, healthy adult role models and the value of giving back to your community.

“We are doing positive life skills. We are doing how to cope with friend problems. We are doing how to deal with your anger, how to love yourself, how to think positively about your future,” said Karen Pillis, Director of Youth Development. “It’s been proven that if you do believe those things about yourself and about your world and about your future that you’ll make good choices now.”

Throughout the school year, Family Service is in after schools and in the school day with kindergarten through 12th grade. We have an evidence-based curriculum that is specific for each age group. Youth are also engaged in service learning and they get to choose what projects they want to do, so it is extra meaningful to them.

Working with kids so closely gives us a unique perspective on what they like and don’t like, and how best to engage them at different ages. Karen says first and foremost to let them refresh and refuel at this time of year. She also advises parents to allow them to have a little more time on the activities they enjoy over the break (like screen time and video games), and to engage kids in coming up with ideas for how to spend their time.

Ideas for spending time together

Karen has a list of great suggestions for what your kids can do over the long winter break, which are adjustable based on your family, the children’s ages and interests.

Outdoors-keep kids moving and active:

  • Scavenger hunts at parks, on hikes, on neighborhood walks
  • Ice Skating at Elmwood Park
  • For every 30 minutes spent playing outside, you earn 15 minutes of screen time

Center in the Square has the Science Museum, Kids’ Square, Harrison Museum, Pinball Museum and the candy store!!!

Hotel Roanoke-Fashions for Evergreens is a fundraiser for United Way of Roanoke Valley. Visit, vote for your favorite tree, and then walk over the railroad tracks on the pedestrian bridge to downtown for more holiday fun. (Until New Year’s Day)

Spa Day at home with mani, pedis, facials and masques can be fun for the whole family.

College Sports can be a really fun and affordable way to engage the entire family, and it’s not very crowded at this time of year!

Cook and bake together. Pick out a favorite recipe, a new recipe or a new ingredient and make something to eat as a family or to give away as gifts.

Choose a book and take turns reading it aloud and also on your own. Discuss it as you read. At the end of break, watch the movie of the book and have a pizza night. (a few family friendly options: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Divergent)

Day Trip. Let your child(ren) pick a destination and a friend and then pile in the car and visit either a historical site, a cultural site, an entertainment or recreation site.

Pajama Day. Everyone pick their favorite foods and everyone pitch in and help cook. Watch everyone’s favorite movies and just snuggle and nestle in.

Visit your local library! So many fun things to do at a library.

Volunteer with your children. Make dog treats (click for some recipe ideas) and deliver to your local animal shelter. Volunteer to pack or serve some meals, clean up a local park, or sing at a care facility.

Puzzle Time. Start a family jigsaw puzzle in a visible, trafficked location in your home and keep it out until you finish.

Mary Poppins. Watch the old movie, read the book, and go see the new one when it comes out.

Play video games together.

Refresh, refuel and enjoy!!!

Hear our Youth Development Director Karen Pillis’ interview about what to do with your kids this holiday break on Living Local!

If youth in your life would like to learn more about our Life Skills Education programs, come check out the Open TOP® Group.

  • Tuesdays at 5:30 pm beginning again Jan. 8
  • 6th-12th grade students
  • No cost
  • Leadership, life skills and service learning