Summer vacation is fast approaching. Thinking of what to do with your kids? School break means fun for most of our kids. They won’t be having homework, projects, and tests. For some of them, it means doing whatever they want. In this case, it will be less fun for the parents. Mine would surely hook himself up with his screens if he can.
If we only consider here and now, permitting your children to do whatever they want seems okay. Now and then, it’s a good practice to let your reigns loose and watch your little ones enjoy their hearts out with freedom. But because we love our children, don’t we care about the intrinsic and long-term happiness they can get if we give them tasks which can give them a sense of fulfillment and something valuable in the future?
Here are my suggestions:
A staple in any child’s hobby lists, games are a great way of passing the time while enjoying and learning. For the young ones, pretend games are a classic. Join in but let them take the lead as they share their ideas of playing with their chosen toys. Bring their dolls, cook sets, and costumes, and let them sink deep into their imagination.
For your older brood, stack your board games and let them choose. If they are amateur board game players, give them the classic Snakes and Ladders, traditional card games, or Monopoly. Tons of skills spring from playing and mastering these games. Fine motor, math, and other perceptual skills develop in holding the tokens or cards, rolling the dice, counting money, etc. Your child also becomes emotionally mature when they become a good sport when playing.
If they’re ready, why not introduce more complex board games like Cluedo, Catan, or Risk? And, if you know how to play, teach Chess and acquaint them with how the knight and pawns can work together to protect the King and Queen.
If your children are artistic, then make sure your art inventory has been replenished. Make classic paintings, simple crafts, and origami that they can also play with after creating.
I’ve noticed Van Gogh’s Starry Night as a crowd favorite in art studios. Name crafts they can hang in their room or give away are also popular and easy! Paper planes, pinwheels, and leaping frogs were some of what my own OT kids enjoyed in our sessions.
Suppose your kid is like mine and thinks more logically; Lego or any set of blocks is the answer. For starters, they would love following the instructions in the manual, but sooner or later, with enough challenge and modeling, they would also try to make their own buildings and structures.
Science Experiments and Scavenger Hunts
Still, for kids who lean more toward being left-brain thinkers, you can give them simple science experiments to enhance their use of paper, scissors, glue, and other tools. My son hated painting plaster figurines which became a hit a few years back. But when we made a volcano with a paper-covered jar, he painted the entire thing enthusiastically and refused to throw it away even after it erupted several times!
You wonder why Easter Egg Hunt events are always packed. Simple treasure hunts for the younger kids are a worthwhile activity. It also improves their visual memory, closure, planning, and organizing skills.
When planning a hunt, don’t overthink. It can be daunting to implement it. Make it simple, and think about what your child wants. For grade schoolers, level it up by creating a trail that will make them solve puzzles and problems first to lead them to the next clue. This way, the mystery will be easier to solve, and they will also feel seen and valued.
Sports and Exercise
Nothing beats training your child to be physically fit. If you’re the athletic type, share your sports with them. But never force them to join classes or competitions. Just expose them to it. They might see what made you like it, or they may enjoy your company while doing it.
Some sports can benefit your child even if you’re not vying to compete or play in tournaments soon. Swimming is a valuable life skill. Enrolling your child in swimming lessons is something he can use in life. Likewise, he can gain friends by joining team games like basketball and football.
If you’re an ordinary Joe in sports, just like me, you can still engage in movement tasks with your child. Find the one that you both enjoy. Once you do, cherish it. My son, now 12 years old, went through the dancing phase when he was in the primary grades. Back then, we used to enjoy Zumba. He would choose the ones with the more complicated steps or those he is familiar with. We had a good run!
On Youtube, there are excellent exercise videos for kids. From yoga to animal walks, and pretend video games, your kids will surely enjoy them as much as my OT kids have. Even their teacher (me) gets a bit of movement here and there when we use those videos.
Reading and Writing
Always have books available for you or your child to read. Love for reading starts when your child has come across something they love. Start them young. If you have a baby at home right now, don’t think that books are not yet for them. Read to them. Short stories with vivid pictures make them enticing, but the real gem is in the story and how they understand it.
Ignore the age recommendations you’ll find in books. (Screen them to ensure it is appropriate for your child.). Follow your child’s lead when choosing stories they want to immerse themselves into.
For your preschoolers who love art as well. You can make a lot of art based on books they read. You’ll find a ton of artworks tied with Eric Carle stories on the net. Then you can give them a blank sketchbook and see what they make of it. I have OT kids who loved books and became natural storytellers. Given folded and stapled-together bond papers, one of my kids wrote his first ever 4-page storybook when he was five.
Involve your kids in your household chores. Give them a daily task to teach the virtue of responsibility, especially now that there’s no school. I have a post on how to start your kids with tasks. Please read it here.
Increase motivation by exploring the chef or the artist in them. Teach them how to prepare their favorite food. Let them help you or their dad in making small wooden furniture.
If they don’t like these, I’m here to tell you that most would be willing to enjoy anything related to water. So have them wash the dishes, water the plants, or clean the car.
We know that our kids belong to the techie generation. That is why they learn quickly with the phone, laptops, and computers. Why not train them to be adept at practical applications like Word, Excel, and Canva? Young kids can start with the Paint application.
Let me share that I am planning to train my 12-year-old to touch-type this summer break. There are free online resources, such as typing games, typing tests, etc. My dilemma is in limiting his screen time. For now, I’m excited to tell him, for the sake of motivation, that touch-typing is a handy skill when talking with his friends on the computer.
Swimming trip is a summer staple here in the Philippines! When you go, expose your child to the sand, waves, seaweeds, and shells you can find on the beach. Build sand castles with them.
Go on a nature trek. Find a park where plants and trees will surround them. Visit a zoo and get to know the animals up close and in person. It’s a very soothing experience.
The one you can do right after reading this piece is to picnic with the family! Whether you find a lawn or pavement, lay down a mat and sit on it while spending time together. Bond while eating, talking, singing, laughing, or even playing a game.
Whatever activities you prepare for your children this coming break, squeeze in time to ask them if they’re happy. Teach them the value of using their time productively and working towards improve their skills. Collect valuable moments that will be part of your and your child’s core memories, ones that you will both cherish forever.