Having a break is good, but when it’s several weeks even younger children lose the learning habit and when September comes around, school can be more challenging. If you want your children to retain their learning skills you’ll need to use a bit of lateral thinking.
A bit of culture
Taking them to a museum, art gallery or to any other place full of information is great, but it’s not something most parents will have time to do every week. Maybe schedule in some interesting days out over the holiday period – as well as visits to fun places like theme parks, zoos, the beach or other leisure centres.
Don’t just arrive unprepared. Find out what the key exhibits are and get them talking about these. It doesn’t have to be a dry and dusty museum there are plenty of interesting places to visit. If you’re near London there’s a Balenciaga fashion exhibition at the V&A and Tate Britain has sculpture, art, performances, tours and workshops on various dates during the holidays.
The National Trust puts on music, theatre and film performances outside – check out their website for what’s on near you.
Things to do
The Royal Horticultural Society also has many events for youngsters at their centres all over the UK.
Check out ‘Day Out with the Kids’. You just put your location in and it will tell you what’s happening near you.
Many local leisure centres and Councils run activities for kids during the holidays – although you may need to check age limits.
Make your search engine work for you – or get the kids to do it – to find interesting activities.
Harness their creativity
Have an adventure in your local park. Most communities have a local park, but if you live in a rural location you could do this somewhere in the countryside. When the running about runs out, sit the kids down and ask them to imagine an adventure that might have happened here and tell you the story of what happened.
The younger the child the more creative the story is likely to be – and the more fun they’ll have inventing scenarios (and the more fun you’ll have listening to their flights of fancy).
You might suggest they write this up when they get home – either on the computer or by hand – or that they draw pictures to illustrate their story. Keep them in a folder and get them out in a few months’ time to enjoy as a family again on a rainy afternoon.
On days when the weather means it’s not a good ‘outdoors’ day get them to start a journal and record their day-by-day thoughts and experiences. This might be in writing, drawings (or both), photos taken on a mobile phone or they might add small items that relate to the events in their journal.
Another activity for indoor days is to introduce them to scrapbooking. Start simple and if they enjoy it you might allocate a budget for them to go to a local hobby shop to buy some of the wide range of scrapbooking materials.
Whether it’s a visit, a course, workshop, an organised activity or materials to support a home activity – make sure you assign a budget at the beginning of the holidays. This will avoid arguments about how much all these activities might cost – although some are free. Make sure they stick to the budget – it will teach them that your wallet is not bottomless!