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Holiday Learning Experiences

gardening for kids

I'm often asked by parents what they should be doing to keep up their children’s learning in the school holidays. The holidays provide an ideal opportunity for parents to encourage their children to view learning as a life-long activity, not just something you do at school. Just as much learning occurs informally as it does formally in the classrooms and children need occasionally to be left to educate themselves.

The most wonderful and surprising learning experiences can be had when parents introduce and lead their children to an activity but then step back to let them discover and learn. Learning requires risk and failure. Encourage risk taking! Instead of limiting children to activities they are capable of, let them try new things and fail. Your job is to show them how to learn from failure and bounce back. This will be a skill they will appreciate far more when you are not around!

Here are some of my favourite educationally rich activities for the holidays. I like them because they are things that just aren't realistically possible in the classroom but provide just as much, if not more, learning experiences.

Build a garden - Nature provides plenty of wonderful learning experiences and to watch things grow that they planted is an amazing experience for a child of any age. Find a space in your yard, grab a few small plants and some potting mixture and let them create their own garden to nurture over the holidays.

Master Chef - Here is one the kids love! Get the video camera out and video them cooking a meal. Make your own "Master Chef" episode. Allow them to purchase the ingredients, measure them out and follow the recipe. You could even take direction on the filming from them. The older kids may like to edit the final production on the computer. The learning opportunities are endless in one simple activity like this!

Trust Me - Do you dare to completely and sincerely trust your child? This is another favourite, particularly for the seniors! In "Trust Me" you will entrust your child to a take full control of a family task. For example, have them plan an event for the family. You might give them a budget and tell them that they need to take the whole family out for a day of fun on that budget. They will need to plan the budget, transport, food, events, schedules and anything else for the day. What a blast! Another one is to entrust them to budget, buy and prepare the next three days' meals (tip: have a secret stash somewhere in case things go horribly wrong!).

Start a Blog - Do you have a child that hates writing? I'll guarantee they will love creating their own Blog of their holidays. They are simple to start and develop a number of skills for all ages. Just because they aren't hand writing a fictional story about a princess that got lost in the forest doesn't mean they aren't developing excellent communication, writing, spelling, and editing skills.

Summer Reading Club - Read, read, read! Visit the local library and let them choose what they would like to read. Try not to give them boundaries on their choices - you may just learn something about your child too!

Board Games - Don't underestimate the education value of Board Games. There are games for all levels. For the littlies, try Guess Who, Snakes and Ladders, and Trouble; for the older students the strategic skills of Chess, Monopoly, Backgammon and Battleships are invaluable. They bring the family together!

Problem Solving Apps - It is inevitable that they will want to get onto the computers and mobile devices at some stage during the holidays. Take some time to find some interesting educational games. Of course, all parents of primary school age children should by now have "Steve Storm and The Tables of Doom" installed for them to practise their times tables.

Holidaying with children

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