Vacations, a lot of free time for children!!! A big question mark for parents, how to keep children engaged? If both the parents are working then this is a even difficult question. What are the activities for summer vacation of kids? How to solve this? What all alternatives we try?
Children are very much excited as the vacations come closer. They start suggesting plans to their friends and also to parents. They want to learn new things, watch their favourite TV programs, go for outings, movies and what not. Also they want to spend some part of vacation at relative’s places or at home town. For them it is a big break from schools, and they want to be as busy as school days or even more.
If we look at parent’s scenario, it is different condition all together. First challenge they have is they want someone to be with children throughout the day, if children are not grown enough to be alone for long time. If the parent’s are working, then there is a need of full time person, who can look after children in their absence. If it is joint family, or grand parent (s) are also there, then we can ask for their help. Otherwise there is need of a dedicated person. It it would be good if the parents also plan their time with children. One should not completely depend only on third person for child care. It is demand of children also to spend some vacation time with parents.
First rule of activities for summer vacation or winter vacation would – don’t make it monotonous. Children get bored with one thing more quickly than grown ups. Hence they need change in thier activities frequently. Hence there can be more than 3-4 activities, which we can call broader activities, a day. Small small activities can fall in between. Also, there should be change in these activities after 3-4 days. Basically we need to have a bag of activities mixed with different flavors. We can mix activities of different categories e.g. indoor games, out door games, new leanings, small recepies, movies, TV watching, computer/video game playing, going out to garden, trekking, summer camps, an outing, etc.
The best utilization of this free time of children is done when they have something to take out from it. Something they can say, after years, that in this summer vacation, I did this, which has helped me so much till date, or I learned this new thing, that has helped me considerably during my education. Some take away like this. It may not be that in single vacation they learn it completely. But it can be a good beginning. Such as, children start learning some art e.g. painting, dancing, singing etc. They continue it throughout their life. But the beginning was in a vacation. Same is applicable to learning of a sport. They start playing badminton, chess, or learn swimming, which they continue then after.
Spending some time with grand parents can also be a definitely to be planned activity if possible. It is need of both kids and grand parents to be together. It helps both in their life if they spend time together. It can create good bonding amongst them. Grand parents have vast experience of life, and they can teach children many things effectively. Children also tend to listen to them. Overall it can be a good family activity.
Another activity that can be good for children, is giving exposure of environment, culture which is different from their day to day lifestyle. E.g. if children are studying in urban area, then there can be a small portion of vacation that is spent in rural area and vice verse. By this they get exposure to that lifestyle, culture, problems, and basically feel of that part of world. As they grow further, they can relate to the other areas quickly.
In most of the cases, children end up spending considerable time watching TV or playing video games. As this makes sure that children do not trouble parents, it is possible we do not take serious note of this. But there are also adverse effects of both of these if time spent is considerable. Hence for parents it becomes important to keep check on this and limit the time children spend on these two. One sure way of limiting the time is, engaging them in other activities.
It is also good to make available some indoor games e.g. carom, chess, cards, snakes and ladders, etc. This makes children to stay at home during hot afternoon timings. Also these things can engage more than one child. Children get socialized well in such games.
Finally parents time spending should have maximum effectiveness. A smaller amount of time spent by parents should make children feel a lot better than their entire day. One can make this by taking them out for a good movie, to watch a sport’s match, to garden, engaging them in an activity like gardening or cooking etc. They should not feel that during vacation parents do not have time for them.
Vacation camps can also help to occupy some amount of time. But it should be selected by looking at entire plan and taking feedback from experienced ones.
Finally it should be fun for both parents, and children. If you have any other ideas, please share.