With many of our part-time students balancing work, children and study, even as everyone else seems to be enjoying the summer sunshine, it can seem like the logistical upheaval of school holidays is one challenge too many.
You might need to avail of summer-camps for the kids Monday to Friday, and even retain study hours at the weekend, but you don’t need to do big days out or long trips away to have some non-routine fun.
We asked Josephine Bleach, director of NCI’s Early Learning Initiative for some tips to enjoying life outside of school term.
- Stroll – take a walk around your local area. 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?
- Understand what is most important for your children – time with you. Forget the frantic madness of going places and doing things. Just take deep breath and step back from it all. Relax! Lounge around your house, garden or local park. Appreciate and enjoy the summer rather than letting it fade away in a gust of busyness.
- Make lots of interesting and creative things by putting 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. Sit back and let them loose with sticky tape and paint – or join in the fun and see how creative you all can be together.
- Meaningful Conversations – usually we rush from one thing to another and have little time to really talk and listen to our children. Stop ‘doing’ this summer. 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 with 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 summer? Invite everyone around for a 'take us as we are' tea with a water fight thrown in for good measure – nothing fancy. Or arrange to meet everyone at a park. Just let everyone hang out together, kids and adults alike. Have fun together.
- Read – stock up at your local library this summer. 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.
- Summer is a time for renewal. Take time this summer 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.
Such good advice! Making some time to acknowledge that this is down time for your children, after a busy school term, gives you a chance to just be with them. Make some happy memories this summer!