Are you a parent who wants to keep things cheap, yet fun this summer holiday?
Whether the thought of summer school holidays fills you with delight or panic, parents across the country have no choice but to decide how to fill the days and weeks of August.
There is an embarrassment of days out on offer across the country, designed to appeal to parents, keen to keep their children entertained and stimulated. Whilst many of the experiences on offer are undoubtedly both enjoyable and exciting, many are expensive and crowded.
The summer holidays should represent a break from the treadmill of the academic year. Simply replacing one busy schedule for another misses an important opportunity to recalibrate and recharge. My invitation to parents this summer is to take a step back and look at what can be enjoyed closer to home.
1 Agree a Summer Holiday Contract
There is no getting around the fact that the summer holidays are long. To support positive interactions during this period, agree a summer holiday contract to which all family members commit. Depending on the age of your children, your contract could include a promise to take turns, accept time-out when tempers fray and agree a daily screen time limit. Each family dynamic is different so use what you know about your family to create a contract that will promote holiday harmony.
2 Encourage your child to teach you something new
Turn the adult/child relationship on its head and invite your child to teach you something new. By making your child the ‘expert’ you can show that you do not mind stepping out of your comfort zone and illustrate how important practice, determination and resilience is when learning something new, no matter your age. Whether it’s playing a new game, learning a new dance or using new software online, you will empower your child and gain an insight into something that is important to them.
3 Learn something new together
Learning something new together is a great leveller and often creates long lasting positive memories. The National Trust’s 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11¾ is a good place to start when looking for inspiration. Chances are you will find a number of things that you and your child can try out for the first time together. Promoting positive risk taking to try new things together is likely to create a satisfying sense of pride and achievement in both you and your child.
4 Get your heart rate up each day
You cannot ignore the call to action to get our children up and active as much as possible. The long summer break provides a golden opportunity to build physical activity into family life. Identify an opportunity to get active every day. This does not need to be strenuous, but should involve raising the heart rate. Whether you choose to swap the car for the pavement or opt for a more energetic programme, show your child that physical activity is important and should not be compromised during the holidays. Visit Better Leisure Centres for more ideas.
5 Don’t overlook your local Library
It may seem obvious, but do not overlook your local library this summer. Not only do our libraries need our support and patronage more than ever, they provide a fantastic holiday sanctuary for children of all ages. Use a visit to promote new and classic books to your child and perhaps undertake the Reading Agency and Libraries Summer Reading Challenge 2017.
6 Map out a day
Whilst at the library, borrow a map of your local area. Use this as the starting point for a day of exploring together. Bring map skills to life by planning a journey across town, taking in points of local history and interest along the way. Build in conversations about road safety and staying streetwise, as well as discussing what makes the place in which you live special.
7 Do a wildlife survey
Support the RSPB by undertaking a wildlife survey. Whether you are city bound or in a more rural setting, there are many kinds of wildlife you can count and so much to discover just by taking a closer look at the area around you. If this piques your child’s interest, they can take the survey further and complete the RSPB Wild Challenge.
8 Get ready for September
As August draws to a close, set aside some time to share your child’s school report with them. Highlight and celebrate the positives and agree some areas for development for the Autumn Term. Just as you started the summer break with a contract for a happy holiday, make a commitment for the new school year which will support productivity and independence in your child. Set the tone for September whilst still basking in the glow of the summer holidays.