Tips to keep your kids learning on the holidays
School is often the last thing children want to think about during the summer holidays, but that doesn’t mean they can’t keep exercising their brains. Here are some ideas for educational activities your kids can do over the summer break that won’t cost you the earth.
Have them escape into books
We all know that reading is important for children’s literacy, but it can be easy to let the page-turning slide when they’re not in school. Make reading a must-do activity for your kids this holiday season, starting with a trip to your local and oh-so-free library. If your children don’t have a library card yet, sign them up for one – most will be chuffed to have a card of their very own – then let them browse for free books that will engage and entertain them in the weeks to come. At home, try mandating daily SQUIRT (Sustained, Quiet, Uninterrupted, Independent Reading Time). This doesn’t have to be a long stint – depending on their ages, it might be 15 minutes or half an hour. The added bonus with this is that parents will get some much-needed quiet time, too.
Go on a field trip to a museum
For an educational experience that’s easy on the wallet and gets kids out of the house, head to one of Australia’s many free museums. Each of the country’s states and territories boasts at least one – for example, the Powerhouse Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney are great, not to mention interactive, options.
Take them on a walking tour of their own city or town
Take advantage of the warm summer weather and get some all-important exercise while familiarising your kids with the history, landmarks, natural attractions and architecture of their home town and surroundings. Draw on your own knowledge and do a bit of research into your area, and ask the kids what they’re most interested in seeing. Then plot out a route together, or even several routes that you can tackle on different days. On your walking tour, ask your kids which style of architecture they like and why. Make sure they stop to read plaques on buildings and landmarks, and have them try to identify trees, flowers and birdlife. You just might learn something, too!
Create at-home cooking classes
Get your kids in the kitchen these school holidays. Have them choose a recipe for Christmas bickies they’d like to make – with close supervision and help where necessary, of course. Working through recipes fosters learning in so many ways: they’ll be reading, following directions, practising their maths and measurement skills, and, when it comes time to decorate their sweets, exercising their creativity. Plus, freshly baked goods make great presents for their teachers, friends and neighbours, so you’re killing two birds with one stone this busy silly season.
Conduct simple science experiments
Got a budding scientist in your household? There are lots of simple experiments you can do at home to introduce basic – and really cool! – scientific concepts. All you need are some everyday ingredients and a Google search of ‘home experiments for kids’. For example, try this coin-cleaner experiment or visit the CSIRO’s page Do-it-yourself science experiments for kids.
Need more inspiration for the school holidays? Other great educational destinations for kids include observatories and planetariums, zoos and botanical gardens. It’s also a good idea to check with your local council or neighbourhood centre to see if there are any goings-on in your area over the break.