What Your 3 to 13-Year-Old Child Can Do During the Holidays
Your son or daughter, let’s call her Charlotte, is starting Nursery School, and you’ve already done the hard bits.
You’ve registered her and are pleased with your choice. You breathe a sigh of relief. And after a few weeks you become preoccupied with a second issue. What should she do during the holidays?
You approach the problem rationally. You could clear your diary and spend all your time with Charlotte. But you’d like her to spend some time with kids of her own age. You’d like her to spend time outdoors. But you’re concerned about her getting hurt in the back garden. You want her to do more than watch TV.
What should you do?
Given time, space and some like-minded friends, there’s no reason why you can’t provide the whole lot at home. However, where that isn’t viable, there is an alternative. A number of organisations run day camps (play schemes) for kids in the school holidays.
What value can these add? And what should you look for when choosing one?
Firstly, you want more than a glorified babysitting service. Activity camps should add value for every child.
There are five core areas where this value can be identified:
- The school timetable is becoming increasingly restricted by the National Curriculum. Activity camps can provide a chance for children to express themselves creatively. And for sessions to develop spontaneously.
- Children at camp get the opportunity to mix with others from different religions, genders and social backgrounds. This can preclude the development of a number of prejudices in children attending single sex or religious or private schools.
- Children at play schemes get the chance to make choices. Within their age group they can make decisions about whether, for example, to paint, play ball games or to listen to a story. This encouragement of independent decision-making can hugely boost a child’s enjoyment and self-esteem. The same opportunities don’t always exist at school.
- Camp can provide a wealth of experiences. A well-run play scheme will have energetic, imaginative staff providing an atmosphere that is simultaneously fun and stimulating. Within one day, a three-year-old can play indoors and outside, complete puzzles, paint, do Yoga and have a Judo session. And enjoy them with a large group of friends. Without a TV in sight!
- Play schemes, or playgroups, are not school. So ‘teachers’ become ‘leaders,’ and their relationship with each child is relatively relaxed and informal. Which means that some of the traditional barriers between adults and children disappear. And the results can be hugely positive.