5-mid school holiday boredom busters
Faced with six long weeks with no school to distract them, it’s no wonder parents feel the pressure to keep their kids constantly entertained during the summer holidays. With four weeks down and two to go, some of us are running out of ideas having already seen the latest blockbusters and hosted our fair share of playdates.
I asked my beautiful step-daughter, Matilda – who loves to draw – what she likes to do on her school holidays. These were her four favourite activities after going to the beach.
1. Sidewalk surfing
Hips, ledges, rails, mini ramps, snake runs, casper flips and crooked grinds – I have no idea what any of that means but I do know they keep kids who love to skateboard entertained for hours on end. Not only are skateparks popping up all over the country but in many cases they’re considered an important recreational facility where local youth can congregate with their peers and learn from their mentors.
While old skateparks looks like giant concrete swimming pools, modern designs, like Sydney’s Monster Skatepark, (which boasts Australia’s only international ramp facility with an indoor street course and outdoor vert and mini ramps) are purpose-built, professionally designed amenities that cater to all ages and skill levels.
2. Get hooked
Casting a rod and waiting for a fish to take the bait is one of those timeless family activities that bring everyone together. It’s not hard to get kids hooked (pun intended) on fishing – especially when they catch a fish before you do!
“Casting a fishing rod, holding it and winding in a fish is a skill that requires concentration,” says Commonwealth Games gold medalist Emma George in her family-friendly blog Love the Outdoors. “Fishing is a great way to get outdoors, teach kids hand-eye coordination and patience, and also teach them how to care for the environment.”
Emma, who grew up around rods and tackle boxes with her family in country Victoria, has some valuable tips for teaching kids how to fish.
“Plan on going for one to two hours, until kids get used to fishing because the last thing you want to do is organise a huge session and get them so overtired that they have a meltdown, everyone gets frazzled and you never want to go again,” she explains. “Mornings generally work well because they have had a big sleep and are ready for an activity.”
If you’re interested in kids-based fishing expeditions around Australia, check out Fishabout.
3. Have a ball
The “beautiful game”, as football (or soccer) is known fondly as, has boomed in Australia over the past few years, thanks in large part to the Socceroos’ success in winning the 2015 Asian Cup. Like many team sports, soccer has much to offer kids on and off the pitch, including letting go of mistakes, celebrating success, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes with teamwork.
You might also want to introduce the kids to Futsal, which is often considered a great indoor alternative to soccer. Generally organised as a five-a-side game, it’s played on a compact pitch with a smaller, less bouncy ball, with an emphasis on footwork and control. Futsal provides numerous ball touches in a short period of time (a bonus for kids with short attention spans) and it presents many of the key tactical patterns of the big soccer game.
Kidspot has a few links to soccer activities, while the MiniRoos is a nation-wide initiative that uses short, game-based sessions to introduce the sport of football to children aged 4-11 years in an inclusive way.
4. Kids in the kitchen
Teaching our kids to cook is a valuable life skill that nourishes them physically, mentally and, some might say, spiritually. Understanding where ingredients come from, using mathematics in a practical way and seeing food as medicine are just some of the benefits of spending time with your children in the kitchen.
There are plenty of children’s cooking channels on YouTube to give you recipe ideas, but all you really need to do is get them involved in the preparation and, depending on their age, cooking process.