Getting the most out of school holidays



The July/August holiday for students is coming soon, and the trick to having a fun and meaningful vacation for your children is to organise activities that are both engaging and educational.

Find activities that build the skills they need for school and life. Tackle listening, reading, comprehension and maths. Use the Internet as your friend. Be creative and make everything fun.

Here are a few websites and activities I recommend.

The website BBC goodfood has fun food-related activities for children. There’s everything from recipes – like making nutritious lollies from avocados and fresh fruit – to planting an herb or flower garden.

Cooking and baking are fun activities that build confidence and incorporate maths skills. Check out this link for many activities:

HGTV has a site with gardening ideas for children. Gardening incorporates many skills into fun activities. Children can do research about different types of plants available in this country and determine the conditions that plants need to grow.

Do they need more shade or sunshine? What is the best place in the yard to plant? How much water do they need?

What natural products are there to control ants, grasshoppers or other insects? Which plants attract butterflies? What can they plant to keep mosquitoes and flies away? Gardening also creates spatial awareness. It gets children outside so they are getting valuable Vitamin D, but they should wear sunscreen.

If you don’t have a yard, investigate how to create a kitchen garden. There are plenty of ideas on this site for growing plants indoors or in confined spaces. Find ideas at this site:

Build listening skills – All children could use help developing their listening skills. Try audio books on a platform like

Look for reading sessions at NALIS during the holiday, and most importantly, read to your children. When I was a librarian, I read to children from Kindergarten through form three. The older children enjoyed being read to.

Make reading sessions no more than 20 minutes long so they don’t lose interest. Always choose a book with your children. Don’t force a book on your children if they're not interested in it, and don’t buy the excuse they’re not interested in any book because there’s a book for everyone.

Once they get interested in a book, they will beg you to read longer. Make sure you listen to books together so you can discuss the literary elements. This will help build comprehension and analytical skills for all of their subjects when they return to school.

Remember, when you read to a child, you can use books slightly above the child’s reading level. Make sure you read at a time when you won't be interrupted. Turn off all electronic devices and make this a family experience.

Puzzles – Introducing your children to puzzles helps to build concentration, problem-solving and spatial skills. Puzzles make children think about a structure, and they boost memory.. Make sure you start with smaller puzzles that your children choose. Three hundred to 500 pieces are a good challenge.

Get your child interested in reading – If you don’t know where to start, try a website entitled Children should see you reading too. Visit the library and the bookstores. Let your children browse freely without pressure. They’re bound to pick up a book at some point. Encourage your children to start book clubs with their friends. Check out this site:

Find ways to develop knowledge – There are many resources designed to broaden your children’s knowledge in a fun way. The site below includes reading newspapers and choosing knowledge-based tv programmes as two important ways to achieve that goal. Again, reading must feel entertaining to children.

Start by checking out the children’s newspaper in our daily newspapers. Supplement reading with children’s magazines.

The Smithsonian Institute has a children’s magazine. Newspapers and magazines can be the stepping stones to books. When children get interested in a topic, they generally like to read more about it – just like adults.

Check out this site

There are endless ideas about how to give your children an enjoyable and educational holiday. Get a headstart and start planning from now so you can hit the ground running. This is the perfect time to test which ideas in the resources above work best for your children.

Next week: Websites that are out of this world.


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