As exam season comes to an end, both parents and children eagerly look forward to the summer holidays. No more early morning alarms, no need to drag ourselves listlessly out of bed to get ready for yet another routine oriented day. Unfortunately, the satisfaction of having nothing to do all day quickly turns into repeat chants of “I’m bored” as we move forward from week one into the remaining five weeks of summer.
And pretty soon, our children are mindlessly watching the “idiot box” in an attempt to pass time and we are left feeling both relieved and guilty. Relieved, because at least now they are occupied. Guilty, because we know that the endless viewing of television is not good for them. Keeping children occupied through the summer is a hard task for parents. But with a bit of planning, we can ensure that the six weeks pass by in a fun and productive manner.
1. Plan your summer schedule
Use a monthly calendar and mark out the days that you will be able to take a family vacation together. If you have friends or family visiting during the holidays, make a note of those days on your calendar as well. This exercise will give you an idea of which weeks are busy and which weeks you need to plan for.
2. Summer camps
Do a little research and find out which summer camps are being conducted in your neighbourhood. Use the opportunity to enrol your children in a class or an activity that they may not get to do during the school year. Find a class that caters to their interests and your budget.
3. Designate one day a week
For example Field trip Fridays to explore your city. Depending on the age of your children, take them to a zoo or the museum. Make a trip to the planetarium and watch a show on the solar system.
4. Organise play dates with their friends
Make a summer group and each parent takes turns to host the children in their house for the day. The children will have fun and you get a day to yourself.
5. Spend time with extended family
Use the summer holidays to create long-lasting bonds with their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are summer holidays spent playing with my cousins.
6. Structure your day into flexible time blocks
While it’s okay to completely let go and not have to abide by a schedule, children benefit from a little bit of routine in their lives. Allow them screen access but only for a limited time. Regular things like brushing teeth, getting dressed, making their beds etc. can happen at a slower pace but needs to be part of their daily routine. Allocate time for free play, where they figure out how to keep themselves occupied. Boredom often spurs creativity.
7. Encourage reading
Use the opportunity to introduce them to different books and authors. Take them to a library. Books are a great way to have fun while building their vocabulary, imagination, reading comprehension and creative writing skills. These skills will give them a learning advantage when they begin their next school term.
8. Keep a FUN folder ready with worksheets printed out
Crosswords, word searches, word puzzles, sudoku, math sums, mental math problems. A quick five-minute worksheet that they can do daily to prevent their brains from getting rusty. Children can choose which worksheet they want to do. Maybe enlist their help in putting it together. For older children, discuss what subject areas they will need to practice over the summer.
9. Get organised
Summer is the perfect time to declutter and organise their toys, books and clothes. Involve the children in sorting and organising their cupboards. Keep a donation box ready for things that are in good condition that can be of use to the less privileged.
10. Create a bucket list of activities for your children
Incorporate their interests and your ability to conduct the activities while making the list. Keeping a list ready will help alleviate boredom and you won’t have to struggle last minute to come up with ideas to keep them entertained.