School holidays can be a challenging time for parents, especially when you’re trying to juggle work or other commitments as well as have fun with the kids.
Our Child, Youth and Schools Education Coordinator Elisabeth Fraser has put together some ideas for the final week to make your time count with the kids.
1. OP SHOPS
Every suburb has an op-shop, and they are absolute treasure troves. Give everyone $5 and a challenge to buy each other a gift, or give the kids $5 and they can choose a new toy. Another win from op-shops is to check out the puzzle and board game selection, for just a few dollars you can set up for cosy winter afternoons at home.
2. WINTER WALKS
Fresh air is great for adults and kids alike, and winter is no reason to be cooped up. If you’re not set up, head to the op-shop and get everyone a raincoat and get outdoors. A winter walk at the beach is sure to yield lots of interesting treasures that the wild weather has washed ashore, or enjoy the local bushwalks while their quiet. Finding a stream and making boats from leaves and twigs is hours of fun.
3. NATURE CRAFTS
Bring a collections bag on your winter adventures and gather materials for crafts at home. Some of our favourites are leaf rubbings (older children might enjoy making a journal naming the different species); creating a mobile with driftwood and shells collected at the beach; or making mandalas from leaves, stones, petals and twigs.
4. GARDEN CENTRE
Winter is a great time to establish a strawberry pot or garden – so this is a fun holiday project. Or grab a bag of cress or sprouts and the kids can grow some salad ingredients in just a few days. Rainy day bonus – many of the larger garden centres have indoor playgrounds and a café, or run free activities during the school holidays.
5. FIND COMMON INTERESTS
Try and find activities that both you and the kids enjoy. I go crazy playing imaginative play with my daughter, but painting and craft is enjoyable for both of us. Maybe it’s working on a home project together, gardening, bush walking, kicking a ball, or baking – find something you both love to do together.
6. MAKE MOVIES COUNT
Put your feet up and watch something together. Nature documentaries are great for adults and kids alike, or choose a favourite movie from your own childhood to share. We all want to keep to the guidelines around kids watching TV, but screentime can be made so much more valuable with active engagement and discussion. Before watching – tune in to prior knowledge by asking your child to make predictions about what will happen in that episode, talk about what happened in the episode afterwards – what positive choices did the characters make? What mistakes did they make and how were they resolved? Jump online and find craft activities for your kids favourite shows.
7. SIMPLE ACTIVITIES
Quality time doesn’t have to involve lots of work and elaborate planning – everything is learning when accompanied with trial and error, play, exploration and discussion. Check out our activity tiles for meaningful, fun and educational ideas for learning at home.
While it’s easier said than done, remember that you’re a parent, and your own person, not an entertainer! Allocate time for play and activities with your kids, and allocate time for yourself and your own interests, chores or work. Your kids can join in if it’s suitable, if not they will make their own fun, or they will whine that you’re not playing – they will survive, learn and love it.