School fills much of your child’s time. But even with homework and after-school activities factored in, it does not fill an entire year. Children and adults alike look forward to the freedom that our evenings, weekends and holidays entail. In fact, the innumerable ways to spend these times can be overwhelming.
So when school’s out — even the Australian International School teachers need a break from time to time — what can you do with your children that will build on what they have been learning at school to give them new experiences to stimulate their imagination?
You may have plenty of ideas already, but here are a few that you might like to explore with your child.
1. Teach them to cook
They may already be learning some culinary skills at school, but often it’s in the home where learning to cook truly begins. Children love to make things they can eat (and if adults are lucky they might get some too!), so encouraging them with simple things to start with will arouse their love of the culinary arts. Cakes and biscuits are great entry-level recipes and you can quickly move on to desserts or even savory pies and casseroles. These are useful skills they will never lose.
2. Go to a sporting event
You don’t have to push out the boat financially by going to a huge, name-brand sporting event. Look for a local team playing in a small league or experience things like swimming or tennis competitions that are interesting and fun to watch together.
3. Take up a sport
If your child loves sport at school, why not enroll in a local club to develop new skills and abilities? Swimming is a hugely popular recreational activity that you could even enjoy together. Alternatively, look out for children’s soccer, Netball or rugby teams that encourage playing with other children and learning what teamwork really means. Sport also provides many mental and physical health benefits, so participating is a win-win for your child.
4. Go to the theatre
Many theatres have programs aimed at children, either one-off events or festivals that include plenty of opportunities for children to see shows suitable for their age or to take part in acting workshops. A good play will stimulate your child’s imagination through the magic that live theatre can bring and it’s something that will be remembered for a long time.
5. Head for the park
A walk in the park can be a voyage of discovery for your child, especially if there are beautiful flowers and trees everywhere. It’s a great opportunity to inspire an interest in and love of nature and the outdoors. Some parks have signs to say what particular flowers and trees are on display, making this an opportunity to learn at the same time. If this information is not provided, you can encourage your child to take pictures and then explore what they are on a botanical website.
6. Eat out
Children love to eat out. Keep things interesting by taking them to a restaurant that does food they haven’t encountered before. Before you do, get them to find the country whose cuisine you’re going to try on a map and find out more about that nation’s culture. An early evening is best, before the evening rush begins.
7. Grow your own flowers and food
This activity is another winner with children, though they do have to be reminded of patience as things don’t grow in a day. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a lot of space because you can grow things in containers. To start with, choose fast germinating plants such as radishes, mustard or cress. You can also teach your child how to sow seeds, plant young flowers or vegetables that are a few weeks old, and understand how to care for them.
8. Do some magic tricks
You can put on a show for children if you have time to learn some skills, or you could even get your child to learn some tricks and put on a performance for family and friends. Children enjoy baffling adults as well as their own friends and it’s a great way to provide entertainment at very little cost.
9. Take up horse riding
Most children love animals, so if you have stables near you, explore what they can offer in terms of lessons and introduce your child to a new activity that will build their confidence and skills.
10. Teach card games
Whether its Snap, Uno, gin rummy or hearts, classic card games are always fun to learn and will never be forgotten. So, switch off the TV and settle down for an enjoyable session.