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How to Engage Children During School Holidays

If the thought of the summer holidays and keeping your children entertained for a whole month is beginning to worry you – fear not! Remember school holidays are a time to be enjoyed and can offer a respite from busy schedules where you can come together as a family. There are a number of wonderful activities you can arrange which will be fun for everyone, will widen your child’s awareness and reinforce a number of the skills he or she is being taught at school.

Activities for preschool children:

  • Increase your child’s awareness and respect for the environment in which live. Plan a bug watch.  Start by getting a magnifying glass, set off to the nearest park and see what bugs you can find. Notice how they move, are they in groups or alone, how many legs do they have? Once home, draw the animals you saw.  
  • Make a book. Gather paper, colouring pencils and a stapler. Start off by making up a story together then write it down, a line or two per page and ask your child to illustrate it. Once finished, your child can proudly ‘read’ their book to friends and family.
  • Help your child develop a sense of charity by talking about children who have less or who may have lost all their toys. Ask if your child would like to donate a toy that is not used very often to the children who have very little.  This can go handinhand with a good clear out of the toy cupboard.
  • Talk about your family and who is related to who. Grandma is Mama’s mama and so on.  Make family placemats by sticking a photo on a piece of coloured paper and decorating around it then wrapping it in clear sticky paper.  These can be used at meal times
  • Talk about the weather and begin a project to monitor over a few weeks.  Create a large daily chart to record whether it was sunny, cloudy or rainy.  If you have a spot to place a measuring cup where it will catch the rain you can record that too. If it is cloudy see if you can see shapes in the clouds, for example, Mickey Mouse’s ears or a baby.

Activities for primary school children:

  • Discover the geography of Singapore. Walk around by the river, take the boat which ferries people up and down between Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.  Put on your mosquito spray and sunscreen and climb Bukit Timah Hill, look at the view from the top of Mount Faber and maybe take a cable car across to Sentosa. Visit Sungei Buloh to see the rich and varied flora and fauna found in the mangrove swamps. Imagine what Singapore looked like long before there were any cars or office and apartment buildings. Draw a picture of old Singapore.
  • Keep a journal of the holiday break. Save all momentos, like entrance tickets, photos, receipts and cuttings that will act as reminders. These can be stuck into the journal along with a written record of how your child felt about these events. 
  • Plan one meal a week.  Put together a dinner menu by going through simple recipes and prepare a list of all the ingredients needed.  Give your child the responsibility of buying the food at the market and talk about how much it cost. As much as possible allow your child to cook that meal for the family. 
  • Go through old family video tapes and photos. Begin to put together a family tree starting with your child and working backwards.  If you don’t want to cut up old photographs you can photocopy them and if there is no photo ask your child to draw a little portrait to stick on the family tree. See how far you can go back. 
  • Learn how to ride a bike or rollerblade. Be brave and learn something new! This can be lots of fun for the whole family and something you can all learn together. Renting rollerblades or bikes is easy at the East Coast, so make a day of it and maybe finish with a picnic on the beach!

We often spend our days racing around during the school term with little time to stop and take notice of where we are. Use the school holidays to explore our wonderful museums or the heritage and history of Singapore. Go on a search for the funniest building or deepest jungle.  Challenges like this will build a sense of pride in belonging to such a culturally diverse and beautiful country.  

It was Albert Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited but imagination encircles the world”.  Let the holidays be a time where young imaginations have the time and space to soar.