Ah school holidays! The juggle, the demands, the ramp up of sibling fighting. It can be tough for parents.
Here at Parents Guide, we've considered how to balance it all out, relinquish parenting guilts, save some money, enjoy some quality time together, free time up for yourself, smooth out dodgy behaviour and even how to revolutionise the inevitable screen time. Read on!
1. Reunite your child with the joys of unstructured play time
Parents, drop the guilt, this is great parenting! Research shows how critical it is for children just to have time to immerse themselves in any imaginative play whether it be with toys, dress ups, crafts, dancing, singing – and it doesn't have to involve you. Unstructured play time helps foster a sense of independence, problem solving skills, encourages free spirited creativity and helps a child rejuvenate and recharge after a busy term of school.
"During empty hours, kids explore the world at their own pace, develop their own unique set of interests and indulge in the sort of fantasy play that will help them figure out how to create their own happiness, handle problems with others on their own, and sensibly manage their own time. That's a critical life skill." Dr.Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Ph.D., co-author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards
2. Cost effective ways for your child to do amazing day trips!
Who doesn't love a family day trip to a Taronga, Symbio, awesome local theme parks or even learning circus tricks? The family cost however, can be eye watering and prohibitive. Many holiday care clubs have diverse schedules and choices for kids and of course come with trained educators to care for your child.
For example, Big Fat Smile's Fun Club - based in certain schools between Austinmer and Dapto - offer art workshops, music, NAIDOC week celebrations and cooking experiences plus excursions to Taronga Zoo, Hangtime, Symbio Wildlife Park and loads more this July School holidays. Even better, it can be a wonderfully cost effective way of your child loving a day out without the huge cost of the rest of family attending. Costs start from around $30 a day (and you can claim child care rebate if you are eligible).
Big Fat Smile's Fun Club is now taking enrolments for their School Holiday Program - CLICK HERE for FUN Club.
Parents Guide Illawarra also recommends arranging for your child to go on the same day/s with their besties, so they really get excited about going.
3. Bringing your child to work days
For those who have child safe workplaces, taking your child isn't just a necessity when it's so beautifully beneficial for all involved. Why? It allows your child to know where you go and helps them understand more about your life away from home.
This is both eye opening for them and bonding for both. Plus as children are more refreshingly honest - just their presence can remind us all to be more authentic and light hearted in the workplace. Giving your child straightforward tasks when you are at work can also increase their feelings of contribution and confidence. It helps to set clear expectations of behaviour in the office beforehand and have the screen time as a reward when they've earned it or you are in meetings.
4. Elongated play dates!
As our kids mature, so do their social needs. Just like us, they need rewarding friendships and a sense of belonging. Keeping your child connected with their social circles in holiday time offers them variety and can mean their behaviour will be better regulated. Generally, friends will be less tolerant of the behaviour siblings' resort to!
With a bit of pre-planning, having someone else's child for a matter of hours or a whole day, then they return the favour, can carve you out the time and space required to balance holidays and work – whilst giving you some extra breathing space.
5. Make screen time constructive!
This is deeply personal choice for every family of course, but like it or not we are in a digitally driven era and it's not going away. If our kids can learn critical digital and technological thinking and doing skills, this will likely allow them a better chance to flourish in whatever jobs market they will eventually inherit.
Parents Guide have considered how to switch from passive, often unmonitored screen consumption that's more driven by the child, to active, constructive yet still enjoyable screen time that builds critical digital skills. Here are some ideas to make screen time more purposeful and beneficial:
Mastering a new skill online
Coding a game, website, animation, app, etc.
Creating digital music
Digital photography and image or art creation
Making an animation movie
Depending on the age of your child you can set them challenge to research and start one of these tasks (you can get involved to give it the thumbs up and become a part of it too, which keeps you more safely connected to their screen time).
For younger ages Scratch is a FREE programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. It may be helpful place to start as it allows anyone to learn coding in fun, imaginative ways.
Or you can find holiday coding clubs in the Illawarra - check out CIY. Club's Game Coding Workshops - CLICK HERE.
In summary, using online screen time for good and making it constructive can really reap short and long term rewards if it's structured and monitored well. From us all at Parents Guide, happy holidays everyone! For more holiday 'what's on for kids' inspiration CLICK HERE for our recommended school holiday activities guide.
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