With the Summer Holidays underway, education often takes a seat on the back burner. Whilst this relaxing time is well earned for children who have studied hard all year, it’s not uncommon for their progress to slide, leading to slipping grades come September when classes begin again. It can be downheartening for parents and children alike. But as easy as it is for this to happen, it’s just as easy to keep learning alive with a little careful holiday planning.
Holidays are the time for all the school learning children have done through the year to be applied to the world around them. They will use the skills they have developed without realizing, whenever the opportunity arises. It is up to you to provide them with the opportunities… but here are our top ideas for activities and experiences to get you started:
1. If you are lucky enough to be able to take your children away during the holidays, allow them to learn for themselves about the different ways of life they encounter. There is no greater learning than first hand experience, and whether this is done in new cultures overseas or just in a new part of your home country, be sure to give them a chance to explore their unusual surroundings for themselves. New places hold endless learning experiences, from culture and history trips to rockpooling and building sandcastles on the beach.
2. If you are staying at home, don’t forget about the vast world outside your back (or front) door. Your home garden and local parks hold a world of discovery. Painting, drawing or photographing the plants, scenery and wildlife teaches creative and analytical skills and appreciation for nature, and might even develop into a new hobby. Let your children utilize their own creative thinking and construction skills by building a tent in the garden out of old sheets, or set up a lawn game like skittles or rounders to teach them about rules, numbers and teamwork.
3. Encourage them to keep a Holiday Diary. Not only does this promote writing skills, but also provides opportunity for other learned skills; have your child draw a map of the area they are visiting, or doodle what they can see, collect and label ticket stubs or photographs and write down the most interesting thing they have learned each day. The result will be a wonderful holiday scrapbook and something to show off when they head back to school in September.
4. Easy, captivating and free, reading is a great activity for the holidays. Even if you cannot travel, your child can still explore far off worlds in the pages of a book. If they are not big into reading, try audio books to get them interested. Try to implement ‘reading hour’ in the day to ensure they get time away from their TV or phone screen and enjoy some good old fashioned reading. If you are not already a member of your local library, get the family signed up there too, as they often offer more than books and CDs. Look out for author visits, story reading mornings and other activities.
5. Holiday Clubs are a great activity to keep your children busy, especially if you’ve got to be at work. Look for clubs that offer something educational that your child is interested in. Perhaps it’s a popular sport such as tennis or basketball, or something completely new like sailing, orienteering or climbing. Drama or music clubs are also great, and some clubs even entail a little of everything. These clubs are also a great opportunity to make sure your children socialize over the holidays instead of sitting in front of the television.
6. Maths might not be their favourite subject in school, but your child is likely to forget they’re doing sums when you’re letting them work out what they need to pay at a shop counter. If you give them pocket money, teach them to budget for days out for treats like ice cream and gift shop items, and allow them to help you count out what to pay the cashier. When shopping, eating out or taking a car journey, why not let the children estimate cost or mileage and whoever is closest wins a prize?
7. Experience days, like holiday clubs, are a great distraction that offer a vast range of activities you and your child probably never considered trying before, from water sports to trips down the Thames, and even falconry.
8. Plenty of websites offer educational games under the guise of pure fun. They can eat up hours of your child’s time without them realizing they’re all but sitting in a classroom – we’d recommend www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies, www.funbrain.com and www.knowledgeadventure.com. Just remember not to let them sit at the computer for too long!
9. Craft projects are like online games but without the computer screen. Look up crafts online or pick up a book of child-friendly crafts at your local library and get gluing, colouring and collecting! A good place to start is at www.thecraftyclassroom.com.
10. If you’re in the UK, you’re likely to come up against some wet weather this summer. If you’re going stir-crazy in the house, don’t forget about all the fun day trips available to indoor places: theatres, museums, art galleries, science centres and indoor attractions will keep you and the family busy, dry, and still learning. If you’re more adventurous (or the weather is good) try farm parks and wildlife walks. Take some activity sheets with you to make sure you keep their minds ticking and let them soak up the experience.
Our best advice to you is just to get out as much as you can, and don’t worry – as long as your children are exploring and having fun, they will be using those skills and important lessons they’ve learned in school!
This post by Lauren Bowman.