“There’s a 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it. So the annual problem for our generation, is finding a good way to spend it!” Well, parents of young children ought to recognize the lyrics as they are from the theme song of the popular children’s television series, Phineas and Ferb. At least they had spontaneous grand plans on how to spend their holidays, giving their mother her overdue rest; but that’s not the case for most of us. Many parents dread school breaks with the million-dollar question on their mind
“How am I going to entertain my children for these many days?”
While some parents have no qualms about seeing their child spend hours glued to the screen of a gadget, there are many who do, and feel subtle disappointment on their part for permitting it. Bruce Perry, an American psychiatrist says, “Children don’t need more things. The best toy a child can have is a parent who gets down on the floor and plays with them.” So feeling guilty alone is not enough; parents are responsible for making a difference in how their young ones spend their precious time.
It may be a challenge to get the older kids to obey the NO GADGET RULE compared to the younger ones, but both the young and the not-so-young can be thought to make wiser choices if they were given... yes, CHOICES!
Let’s journey to the great outdoors
1. Camp it up
Set up a camp in your garden or backyard (if you live in an apartment, turn your living room into a campsite for a few days). Serve up a healthy ‘camp menu’ (which your children can have a hand in preparing) and play games such as stack-up cups or create an obstacle course out of boxes. For the latter, you can have your children design and build them as a day-long or several days worth of entertainment.
2. Green is the way to go
Start a vegetable garden with your children. Choose fast-growing vegetables or herbs to help them learn the growth process of a plant, and have them take turns watering and tending the garden. If you live in an apartment, create one indoors by the window using recycled containers as pots. You could even have them paint the pots before planting the seeds.
3. Visit a wet market
Wake your kids up early in the morning and take them to the wet market. Have them identify and pick out local fish, meats or poultry, and vegetables for the day or week’s supply. Most kids these days have no idea how a wet market works or if it even exists. Hence, the school holiday is the best time to take them on a great educational excursion.
4. Hop on to a ride
Get your gears and bag, park your car at the closest train or bus station, and hop onto the public transport with your kids for a day out in the city or to a recreational park. Let your children use their five senses to study the world around them. It would be a good social experience, which will help them also learn about the various races and lifestyle of the people in our country.
5. Swimming isn’t just for fishes
Arm your family with the towels (don’t forget the change of clothes!), pack a picnic basket and some pool/beach toys and head down to the pool. A day submerged in water activities can tire your children out and keep their energy bursts in check over several days!.
Home sweet home!
1. Arts and crafts
Electronic devices have made many things effortless for children especially when it comes to arts and crafts[mr1] . While being able to express themselves extensively on an electronic device, children these days find themselves lost between a pencil and a paper. [mr2] Pull out those manila cardboards, scissors, glue sticks and coloured papers and have them create origami, or a scrapbook of photos or stickers. Lay out the poster colours and get them to paint with their fingers, feet, or cotton buds. Let their imaginations run wild. If you must, help stimulate their mind by looking through art books or magazines for inspiration.
2. Balloon fun
There are many creative ideas available for indoor games that use balloons. Hit balloon that are filled with helium with a toy gun or use a pool noodle to keep the balloon up in the air for as long as they can - these are just a few ideas. Children love repetitive activities and can enjoy such activities for hours.
3. Movie time
Spend a day with your kids being a movie buff! Movies are not only entertaining; they are another medium to teach your children visual literacy. Watch a movie and then, discuss it with your kids. Have them express their likes or dislikes, much like a movie critic would. Ask them questions and listen to their answers - this also helps you understand your children better while giving them the freedom to express their thoughts.
4. Book challenge
Make a trip to the bookstore, or the town library and get some books back home. Draw out a ‘Board of Fame’ chart on a big card with the names of your children on it and award them with a gold star each time they finish a book. The one with the most stars at the end of the holidays will win a surprise prize. This will not only have them racing for the prize, it will cultivate a good reading habit.
5. Costume party
Yes, it may not be Halloween yet but who needs a reason to party, right? Get your kids to invite their friends over for a costume party. No, not just any costume bought from the store, but self-designed and home-sewn costumes. The pre-party project itself will require few days of planning and work and is a great way to fill up the weeks with the children at home before the actual party day.
Hope these ideas erase the words “I’m bored, Mum! Can I play with the iPad now?” from your children.
Education World. Available at www.educationworld.com
Stay At Home Mum. Available at www.stayathomemum.com.au
Ingspirations. Available at www.ingspirations.com