By Lyn Kendall, Gifted Child Consultant for British Mensa
Remember: everyone is out of their routine during the summer break. That can cause tempers to be short including your own. Expectations are your worst enemy so plan for the worst and hope for the best.
A child’s attention span is shorter than you might think. At four or five years old you might expect a child to concentrate on one activity for five to 10 minutes. This gradually increases until as adults we can manage about 40 minutes.
Think of the six-week holiday as an opportunity for your child to be educated in areas other than formal education. Their social education – interacting with a variety of people in different social situations – is essential if you are to raise a confident child. Their cultural education – where they live, their family background, religion, history and their environment – contributes to the child’s social and emotional understanding.
Take 30 minutes to put a weekly schedule together and stick to it. Include ‘down time’ and a period where everyone has their own space. If you want ideas or a template, find them on my Facebook page along with activities and answers to frequently asked questions.
Every day, include something from the following categories:
- Physical exercise
- Something creative – art, sewing, knitting, web design, making a birthday card and so on.
- Music – from piano practice to listening to music they wouldn’t normally listen to. Now’s the chance to introduce favourite bands from your youth.
- Work that has been set by school – focus on quality rather than quantity. Remember the poor soul who has to mark all this when they go back.
- An open-ended task – something that uses all their skills and problem solving.
- Lots of play – play has been shown to reduce anxiety, even in adults. Lots of toys but “Nothing to do”? Split their toys, books, games and other activities into several different boxes with a mixture of activities in each. Have a different box each day. Not only can the child have fun decorating the box, but the activities will be fresh when they come to them.
- Social time – if your children are missing their friends, build in some FaceTime or a video call so they can keep in touch.
- If you’re going on a car journey that will take more than 30 minutes, pack a ‘busy bag’ that will keep them occupied for the duration.