10 Ways to Effectively Engage Your Child during Summer Breaks

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Children look forward to summer breaks as a time for pure fun, bountiful play and relaxation. Educational activities may be the last thing on their minds but as a parent, it is precisely what one needs to consciously incorporate in their summer activities in addition to recreation. Years of research show that children who are not effectively engaged during summer vacations tend to experience learning losses involving essential skills and academic knowledge. Reading, writing, and math skills are most significantly affected.

 Keeping children effectively engaged during vacations ensures:

  • Time is well managed with little scope for boredom
  • Preventing loss of academic skills
  • Reducing the chances of dangerous/undesirable behaviour of unsupervised children. E.g.:- indulging in antisocial activities.
  • Gaining new experiences and exploring interests in various areas like performing or fine arts, sports, nature based activities etc.
  • Personality Development

Types of activities to be planned

While planning productive activities, it helps to keep in mind the interest areas of the child but introductions to newer possibilities and activities spanning all areas of development are also important, E.g.:-physical-motor, intellectual/cognitive, social, language and moral development.  

  • Going for nature walks. ( to the park, beach, garden, basic nature trails and treks)- Encourage the child to observe, discuss, ask questions and explore answers.
  •  Visiting places of historical and cultural importance. (Museums, heritage monuments, art galleries, farmers’ markets, local communities)
  • Attending social and community events– fairs and exhibitions, cultural fests, community celebrations etc
  • Do-it- yourself activities– Buy readymade art/science/ hobby kits or select projects that children can do at home even in the parents’ absence. E.g.:- Building a model, gardening, painting, making a scrap book, caring for a pet etc
  • Enrolling in a day summer camp or residential one– Day camps may focus on developmental and creative activities but residential camps can teach crucial survival and independent living skills.
  • Academic activities based on reading, writing and math skills– Try to include at least 30 minutes of reading per day and writing can be encouraged in creative ways. Eg:- keeping a holiday journal. For young children, Math skills can be revised through real life practical activities or games ( weighing and measuring food stuff, , counting objects and money transaction while shopping etc)
  • Enrolling in a summer activity/hobby class– learning a new skill or enhancing an existing one can be joyful and productive. E.g.:- cooking, dancing, singing, skating, swimming, martial arts/yoga , art classes, learning to play a musical instrument or learning a language etc
  • Watching age appropriate movies – enhances language and teaches values besides other gains.
  • Giving household chores or daily responsibilities at home.
  • Try including volunteering opportunities.

Click Here to Read about Traveling With Children: Top 10 Family Trip Tips

Dos and don’ts for planning activities:

  • Strike a balance between recreational and academic activities. Make time for relaxation too.
  •  The brain and the body. Remember to keep both active.
  • For pre-schoolers have open ended activities which are not strictly time or rule bound.
  • Plans should include group as well as individual activities. Children need to have some “me time” too besides being in the company of parents and peers.
  • Make a flexible day wise plan, have back up options available.
  • Offer choices and encourage trying out new activities but don’t force a child to join any particular activity class.