The holiday season is almost upon us and whilst the kids might be counting down the days, you on the other hand might not be so excited. Instead, you’re mentally preparing yourself to be bombarded with a steady stream of mummy, mummy, mummy, or daddy daddy, daddy, day in day out for weeks.
But as the saying goes, you only get 18 delicious long school holidays with your children before they fly the nest. So try and be as enthusiastic about all the quality time with your children, as they are about having a break from their studies.
Claire Waller, Head of Primary at Nexus International School based in Kuala Lumpur, offers parents and carers some sound advice on how to make the most of the holidays.
1. Get hooked on books
It can be hard to find time to get lost in a great book during term time, but in the holidays there is no excuse. Not only will your child be transported to places far and wide, but studies have shown that children who read regularly, perform significantly better academically than those that don’t. If a child reads just 20 minutes every day for one year, they will hear on average 1,800,000 words.
So by encouraging them to read from a young age, you will not only improve their reading and writing skills and expose them to new ideas, but you will also hopefully help them develop a lifelong love of reading and literature.
If they are stuck in a reading rut and don’t know what to read next, get them to ask friends for recommendations or visit your local book shop or library and maybe even get them to set themselves a reading challenge of reading a certain number of books over the holidays.
2. Watch a documentary or listen to a podcast
It’s inevitable that at some point you will need a break from all the get up and go activities and just need to rest. Believe it or no,t guilt free screen time does exist if they watch documentaries. Whilst this may not sound like the most appealing way to spend a holiday and the automatic response from your child may be to stifle a yawn and produce a prolonged eye roll, ask them to bear with you.
Documentaries have come a long way in recent years and you can even find some interactive documentaries on some streaming networks that let the children make decisions on what explorers should do next, e.g. should they crawl slowly across thin ice or run as fast as they can. And if you’re hitting the road this holiday season, maybe you can listen to any number of educational podcasts.
3. Make time for friends and family
Try and spend some quality time with friends and family members whom you didn’t get to spend much time with during the school term. At the very least, send them a text or email to show them that you’re thinking of them. Or even write them a letter or postcard; who doesn’t love to receive actual mail?!
Play dates can be a great way of you spending time with your friends whilst they hang out with theirs. But if the kids are younger, try and keep them short and sweet and on neutral territory. Better to leave them wanting another play date rather than vowing never to talk to each other again when tiredness or boredom kicks in.
For older kids you can take in turns to look after the kids. That way you will get some valuable free time to yourself or can do jobs that are much easier and quicker without the whole family tagging along.
4. Get creative in the kitchen
Start with something simple like some cookies and if that goes well, maybe they will rise to the challenge of baking and decorating a cake. If they are old enough, try not to use a packet mix and do it from scratch. It can be more fun and the measuring process of baking may improve mathematical skills.
Look online or in recipe books to decide what to create, get the children to write the list and find the ingredients in the shop themselves.
If baking at home sounds like a recipe for disaster because you don’t have the time, patience or culinary skills required for this activity, try and find a cooking class that caters for children whether you’ve stayed in Malaysia or you’ve flown further afield.
5. Stay active
Sunshine or rain, there is no excuse not to stay active. If they need to burn off some energy at home, why not make your own indoor obstacle course. Choose activities that match your kid’s skill level, or even better get them to choose the activities and help you build it. You can be creative in making your own family-friendly obstacle course using mattresses and tunnels or create a maze for your kids to climb through, using red wool or a ribbon.
And when it’s time to venture into the great outdoors, why not take a dip in a swimming pool. Alternatively, you could pack a picnic and head to the local park to fly a kite or ride a scooter or bike. You could even organize a scavenger hunt.
6. Learn a new skill
Finally, if your child wants to feel a sense of achievement at the end of the holidays, they could choose to learn a new skill. The holidays are the perfect time to learn to ride a bike, trying their hand at juggling or rock climbing.
If they want do something a little less energetic and a little more creative, they could make a photo album or their own iMovie or Stop Motion Picture, using a mobile phone or iPad.
Claire reassures us that “If it feels like your children are constantly hungry or bored and they want to know what the time is every five minutes, you’re not the only one to feel this way. It’s also not uncommon that every time you get home from an action packed day and are about to put on your pyjamas, they are slipping into their swimsuits and want taking to the pool.
She goes on to explain that although children look forward to a big chunk of time free from lessons and uniforms, they actually respond really well to a structured routine. The key to a happy holiday is to create a schedule that is broken down in to chunks, just like their school day. Try and include the children in the planning asking them what they would like to do and who they would like to spend time with.
By taking time to plan out the schedule for the holidays alongside your children, they will feel ownership in the planning process. Days do not need to be filled with elaborate or expensive events, as simple moments connecting with your child can be the most memorable ones!
Everybody is unique. We have different aspirations, skills and strengths. The teachers at Nexus recognise these differences and enrich every child with a wealth of knowledge and experiences, so that they can craft their own success stories.
If you would like to find out more about how the teachers at Nexus can help your child flourish, why not book a tour by calling 03 – 8889 3868.