Pictured: the ELI Easter Event held at CHQ Dublin last week
Celebrate Easter with a difference this year. Slow down, chill out, take time out to enjoy being with your children. Instead of trying to do everything why not take a real break and create a memorable Easter together. Here are a few ideas to get you started, from Dr Josephine Bleach of the Early Learning Initiative at National College of Ireland:
Eat – during term time, everyone can have different schedule and sitting down to eat together can be difficult, if not impossible. Take the time to cook meals that you can all sit down and enjoy eating together. Encourage your children to help with the cooking or, if they are able, let them do the cooking. Switch off phones and all electronic devices. Spend time chatting and lingering over the meal. Make sure everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, gets a word in the conversation.
Art – put the items in your recycling bin to good use. Let your children make towers, monsters, robots, animals and/or airplanes out of your old newspapers, cereal boxes, kitchen rolls and other items. Join in the fun and see how creative you all can be.
Stroll – take a walk around your neighbourhood. Talk about the history, geography, architecture, plants, animals and other interesting aspects of the place in which you live. Discuss what is unique about it, how it is similar to and different from other places. Explain how you came to live here, what you like about it and what aspects you would like to change. Discover how your children feel about their area. What do they like best? What do they wish was different?
Talk – usually we can be rushing from one thing to another and have little time to really talk and listen to our children. Stop ‘doing’ this Easter. Be quiet and still. Let your children talk to you. All you have to do is sit, listen and encourage them to speak by asking open-ended questions. These are questions, which do not have a 'Yes' or 'No' answer. Remember you do not need to have any answers or solutions – just say 'I don't know – what do you think?', while encouraging your children to share and work out their own ideas.
Entertain – it can be hard to catch up family and friends – everyone is so busy and it can be so much trouble to clean the house and prepare food. Why not keep it simple this Easter? Invite everyone around for a 'take us as we are' tea – nothing fancy. Just let everyone hang out together, kids and adults alike. Play cards, hide and seek, board and/or ball games. Have fun together.
Read – stock up at your local library this Easter. Borrow books, both fact and fiction, for yourself and your children. Sharing is caring so make sure you discuss the books you are reading with your children. Why you picked the book? What you are enjoying or not, as the case may be, about the book? Discuss the plot and characters. Play the 'what if' game and create different endings to the stories. Encourage your children to read books on their own and then take time to discuss these books as well as enjoying some books together.
Easter is a time for renewal. Take time this Easter to renew your energy and your relationships with your children. Slow down and spend time together doing simple, yet meaningful things, that your children will remember for a long time to come.
About the Early Learning Initiative at National College of Ireland
Dr Josephine Bleach is Director of the Early Learning Initiative (ELI) at National College of Ireland. ELI supports families, communities and schools in the college’s local area, the Dublin Docklands, to support the education of children from birth onwards. Without this early intervention, generations of children’s life chances will have been determined before their first day at school. Through literacy, numeracy and home visiting programmes, the Early Learning Initiative is helping to create a high-achieving, cohesive Docklands community. For more parental tips from Josephine check out this article on three fun family weekend activities that will help your kids to learn.
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