How exciting – the summer holidays are about to start and you are planning for a busy and wonderful break. But how do you ensure that your children not only keep active but also keep their brain in gear over the long holiday? There are, of course, many holiday clubs which offer a variety of activities in addition to sports and swimming – but what about those other days? As a parent of three children myself, I know that it is worth planning and having activities up your sleeves – especially if our British weather isn’t quite up to scratch. I am always amazed at children’s innate curiosity and capacity to learn and so engaging children and giving them exciting experiences will really reap rewards. And, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here are my top tips to ensure you all have a wonderful holiday.
1. What is your child interested and fascinated by?The summer is a brilliant time to enable them to explore their passions and embark on a project – it could be related to Science, Nature or History, for example looking for mini-beasts and finding out about habitats and life-cycles. A project can involve going to the library to find information books, looking for information on the internet, painting, writing facts – or even creating a PowerPoint (something that children are very adept at).This is a fantastic (and impressive) piece of work to take into school at the beginning of September and wow staff and their classmates.
2. You could help your child compile a holiday diary, the important thing to remember here is to ensure it remains a ‘fun’ activity. You don’t need to record every single day; choose the days when something different has happened, or when they have been excited (for example taken a bus, bought a new toy, visited a member of the family, gone to a friend’s house or even visited a special place, perhaps a castle or museum). Collect mementos such as tickets, leaflets and photos to stick in, it makes the diary an exciting activity to complete.
3. Get outside! Hopefully we will have a glorious summer which will be perfect for exploring our wonderful natural world and spending more time outside. In my experience, children love being able to go for a walk in a new area, fly a kite, look for different types of flowers, go rock-pooling, build a den in a forest (or your garden), even a walk to a local park can be a great way to get your child out and about. To make the experience a little different make a picnic together, arrange to meet up with friends, or create a ‘natural’ treasure hunt (finding a certain type of flower, sticks, leaves and feathers).
4. Pose challenges. Children love new challenges, this can be anything to fit in with you or your child’splans, for example, can you ride your bike without stabilisers? Read 10 books and write/draw a review of each one? Learn your times tables, learn to bake a cake or make a meal. They will feel a huge sense of achievement, it can even be a set of challenges for the whole holiday with a particular prize at the end.
5. Visits – if you are able to, plan some visits to exciting places or attractions over the holidays. There are many amazing free activities available (for example libraries often have exciting free book related activities over the summer) in addition to the many wonderful museums and landmarks that we have in this country.These often stimulate lots of further interest and research and could be the basis for a project…and can be a high point for the holiday experience.
6. Play Maths games – these can be fun counting games in the car as you go on a journey, or games such as snakes and ladders. You can also buy fun shopping and counting games which will keep your little ones practising their number bonds and maths skills without even realising – or you could set up a shop at home using tins from the cupboard.
7. Have craft days – especially good when the weather is not kind. This could be linked to a theme e.g. dinosaurs or castles, or to events – for example making a birthday card or present. You do not need to have lots of expensive craft kits – use items at home for example, making junk models which can keep children planning and busy for ages before even getting to the painting stage.
8.Keep up the reading! This is so important, especially for younger children who are just getting going! Keep it fun, interactive and again look for books you can share together which will follow their interests.
Finally have fun and a wonderful summer together!