Written by: Alice Sheppard
Struggling to think of school holiday activities? You’re not the only one! Kids – can’t live without them, can’t put your feet up and send them off to do something for five minutes before they come back saying “I’ve done it now, Mum, I’m booooooooooored.” Exhausting as they are, school holidays can be a treasure for you and the kids to have great fun together. Here are our suggestions . . .
Quick, while the weather’s good (if you’re British, that probably means Easter or the June half term) – give your kids something easy to grow, like flowers or tomatoes. Buying the seeds or young plants might be something to look forward to if you have to drag the kids along to the supermarket. 8-year-old me loved her tomato plants so much she named them – the tomatoes were delicious, too.
All those museums you’ve meant to visit for years . . .
Museums, planetariums and zoos are much more pleasant over holidays and weekends when they’re not full of school groups. Google such places in your local area and get your kids to pick one place each to go to. Rather than school dictating what they have to write about, they can either run around and make serendipitous discoveries, or they can research the place in advance and go straight to what they want to see. Most of these places have specialised children’s shows and playgrounds. My personal favourite is Paradise Park in Cornwall, a zoo and garden of exotic birds and animals, with a lovely indoor playground.
Go camping – in your garden!
The New Scientist once wrote that we miss a huge amount just by being tucked up in our beds at night. A remarkable amount of wildlife makes your garden a different place at night, and even in cities you might see a couple of stars and planets. This can be a mini-holiday with none of the expense or travel: put a tent outside, or even a sheet over the washing line, and have a barbecue or bonfire outside! Tell stories, sing songs, and talk about the stars and space. Clear nights get very cold, so make sure there’s plenty of bedding.
Take your kids to work with you
It’s very good for children to find out what their parents do all day and “what they might be when they grow up”. Negotiate with your boss in advance and see if they can come in for a day – you might well have colleagues who can show them around, or teach them new games, or who are dying to have children themselves and will be so happy to meet them. They’ll eventually need a place to sit with books, crayons and toys.
Get cooking together
Both boys and girls should be able to cook: it’s a skill everyone should have (and you never know, this might be a real blessing for you on evenings when you’re exhausted). Start easy – put them on a stool by the oven and have them stir the porridge. (They far prefer stirring to chopping, and you can always have a stir yourself and check!) They moan about what’s for dinner? Challenge them to cook something they like, then! Cakes are pretty easy for kids, and pizza. Pizza has the added value that they can make the wackiest toppings they like without major expense.
Make them your gadget teachers
Yes, yes, Facebook: today’s kids don’t know the connection between tapes and pencils, how shocking. They’ve been born into a world of newer gadgets and often learn faster than adults. Kids spend all day at school showing what they know: they might love teaching you how to use an iPad or uploading a video to youtube, and you might be really pleased with what you’ve learned! You can also get more confident monitoring their Internet safety.
This is a break from writing dull answers in neat folders. But they can still keep their brains alive! There are online maths games, activities with the Woodland Trust and their school might be running some worthwhile workshops too.
Other parents are your friends
Get to know your children’s friend’s parents and team up. Drop your kids off at theirs while you go on a course; bring theirs along to the planetarium next week they might need to visit a sick relative.