Summer is upon us and while It is important to have a rest from school, but we can still combine the holiday with fun activities that will support our child’s learning, independence, help them get ready to go back to school and at the same time have a great time together.
Why not use the holiday as an opportunity to introduce and delegate chores and responsibilities to all family members! This in return will not only make you a happier, more proud and calm parent who will ‘allow’ your kids to become more independent but can also boost their confidence by allowing them to feel needed and valued in the daily running of the family.
You are in this together – get the family involved:
- Agree to who will do what, when and how. Make sure you make this agreement visual for everyone to see
- What can they do: have a night they are responsible for dinner (do it together), help with laundry, pair socks, set table/clear table, cut grass, water garden, pack their own holiday bag, keep room tidy, vacuum, clean, empty dishwasher etc.
Enjoy your kids over the summer:
Long days together can often be tense and might end in nagging or arguing – so in order to enjoy your kids over the summer we need to remind ourselves to be present, mindful and become a more focused and conscious parent, where we fully focus on each moment we are with our children.
Be conscious of that you want to spend at least 15 minutes a day with each of your kids where you are 100% there, focus only on them and become aware of what they say, do and feel and really get to know your child and connect with them.
Being a focused parent helps us to accept if things haven’t gone to plan, as we can say ‘we tried and we did the right thing’. Mindful parents become essentially better able to manage difficult situations and issues arising in the family and within themselves.
How do we create more family time:
Try to make a summer bucket list together before the summer holiday starts of things you want to do for different weather, moods, finance and timing etc.
Having a bucket list will help you to be prepared if things change i.e. if you have planned a bike ride to the park but it is raining then grab your bucket list and see what else you can do.
- Plan and agree it: we can all get stuck in our busy lives or in front of screens, so take time to plan what you will do and when as a family, this holiday and every day, e.g. eat together, movie night, bike ride, go for a walk, ice skating, go to the pool, find a market, theatre. Discuss together what you would like to do and then schedule family time. That way you know it will happen!
- Find common ground: it is easier to spend time together when everyone is enjoying themselves: sport, gardening, cooking, movie night, board game etc.
- Be present: try to give your family your full focus and attention, leave out chores, worries and screens – be mindfully there!
- Join in and be a role model: if you want the family to join in, join in too. Don’t just be on the side-lines watching!
- Bored is Good: Even though it is great to plan what to do and activities there is nothing wrong with some good old fashion boredom. Over planning our days can just end with you all getting stressed, tired and could set ourselves up for failure as we might not get all the things done that we promised. So let’s allow daily boredom where our kids have to think up their own activities, no screens or entertaining. Boredom is good; it helps our kids to think more creatively.
Managing Screen Time over the Summer:
- Last but not least, let’s try to have ‘tech-free’ hours, days or even weeks. Yes it is easy to allow our kids endless hours of screen time as a babysitter and a time out for us but we are not doing them or us any favours. Not only will we feel guilty as we know that it is up to us to manage but also our kids get lazy, cranky and it will be so much harder to get into a routine come September plus we miss great opportunities to get out, learn and have fun together – or just be bored!
Again, it all comes down to pre-planning and agreeing. Before the summer sit down and agree to what manging screen time looks like, what are the rules and when.
Why not try to plan tech free days (yes that will include you too). In this discussion you can create the summer bucket list, where you all come up with alternatives to screens.
Educational fun activities:
- Baking/cooking: make children read out the recipe or try to do it together. Make a double portion and ask the child to divide it by 2. Talk about ml, grams, kg etc.
- Concentration: take some time doing craft or board games for a period of a minimum of 15 minutes. It has to be an activity that enables your child to sit still. Remember to praise them for sitting still and concentrating on the activity.
- Reading with young kids: Make sure you read for your child every day and maybe trace the words with your fingers so your child can follow and get used to reading. When you are out walking encourage your child to notice signs and read them out loud. If your child can’t read you can ask what they think the sign means and then you can read it out. Reading out road names is a great way to learn new words such as street, road, avenue etc. For older kids: allow them to choose some summer reading, magazines or newspapers are a great way to explore new topics. If your first language is not English you can choose a book in your language to read out loud. No matter how old your child is they are never too old for a story.
- Numbers: try to familiarise your child with numbers by playing a ‘number-spotting’ game. Spot numbers everywhere and say them out loud on houses, speed limit signs etc. Support your child in writing out their age. Monopoly is a great way to learn numbers, your child can be the banker and in charge of the money!
- Play school: In essence, you can “play” school with your child. It should be in a room without distractions (i.e. no TV or video games) and geared towards learning (i.e. den, family library or home office). Your child can even be the teacher!
- Fine motor skills: fine muscle movement of the finger will be needed for drawing, writing, cutting and holding a knife and fork. Do a little bit of craft every day where you support your child to use their fine motor skills. Help them to cut, draw small objects, glue small objects and make beads. Helping you to cut fruit and vegetables is another great way to develop fine motor skills and encourage independent eating habits.
Most important, have FUN this summer.