Whilst serving as a rest for students, school holidays can often have the opposite effect on parents by putting them under stress to find fun things to do to occupy their children. The cost of keeping kids entertained is also rising, with the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ taking increasingly bigger hits during school breaks.
Whilst fast entertainment is easier to come by in this digital age, and a high percentage of kids splash out pocket money on video games, there are often overlooked activities that will keep children entertained and provide educational value.
Here are seven educational but fun things to do in the school holidays:
1. Discover Science Museums
Whilst admission prices for adults may be steep, certain museums such as Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum has free entry for kids 16 years and under. Science museums traditionally do exceptionally well at ensuring their exhibits are interactive and engaging. There are often regular demonstrations and activities that children can partake in that are fun but will also challenge their minds and get them thinking.
2. Trips to the Zoo
As with other museums, zoo admission prices can sometimes be off-putting, however, you can sometimes secure good family deals and other specials. Check online before your visit as there are often deals for pre-purchased tickets as is the case for Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Zoos know that education is a vital aspect to their longevity so there are always shows, demonstrations and informative talks that will have your son engaged for days after.
3. Head outdoors
At Trinity there are fantastic opportunities offered to students to get outside of the classroom and experience the world. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is offered from Year 9 and gives participants a host of experiences and skills that might otherwise have been scarce to come by. Further, Trinity’s Field Studies Centre in Jervis Bay provides an ideal setting for our boys to be nurtured and challenged in the outdoors. Participation in outdoor activity helps to develop both soft (emotional, social, psychological etc) and hard (technical, safety, environmental) skills. To encourage your children to enjoy the outdoors, you can start by researching great hikes, going on a camping trip or seeking out outdoor adventure opportunities for the whole family to enjoy such as kayaking, abseiling or caving.
4. Reading for enjoyment
Whilst the lure and temptation of handing children a tablet or device weighs heavily, school holidays are a perfect time for children to discover the pleasures of reading for enjoyment. Studies have found that the enjoyment of reading is a crucial aspect in the development of young minds. In the school holidays, it is important that children read books that they enjoy, ideally leaving the reading choice up to the child.
5. Volunteer your time
Providing rich life experiences and cost efficiency, volunteering time is a very good way to provide an educational twist to an activity. Local charities are always on the lookout for volunteers and animal shelters can be a big hit with children. According to a study into youth volunteering in Australia, the benefits of youth volunteering are vast and include: strengthening social relationships, developing skills, enhancing career prospects, contributing to community and cultivating the feeling of ‘making a difference’.
6. Visit Church
Many churches offer children’s programmes. St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney for example offers a Sunday 10:30am service which is popular with young families. Children are offered a programme that is run during the church gathering, called Kathedral Kids, where children join in singing, a Bible story, craft activity and playtime, appropriate to their age. Afterwards morning tea is offered for everyone to share. This teaches your son important lessons about Christianity and community.
7. Dive into a documentary
If screen time is unavoidable, try to harness the time by focussing the TV remote on an engaging documentary. A UK study found that there was no convincing evidence that either practising mindfulness or meditation had a more positive effect on open-mindedness or empathy than jogging or watching documentaries. Looking for inspiration? Here is a list of the best documentaries for kids.
How to find something for your son
The activities listed provide a great start, but it is important to bear in mind that every child is different. The secret to finding engaging activities during the school holidays is to first consider what your child enjoys and then find ways to add educational value to that activity.
At Trinity, we celebrate families and all they do for their children and the community. We believe in working collaboratively with parents and students in a supportive Christian environment to ensure our boys realise their full potential, embrace their passions and find their life’s purpose.
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