In my opinion: Avoid the dreaded 'I'm bored' this summer for your children
Children all around the country are looking forward to their summer holidays. This is a welcome time to relax a little from the busy schedule of making lunches, getting kids out the door on time, dropping them off and not forgetting to collect them later. The next few months are a great time for both parents and children to recharge their batteries before it starts all over again in September.
Of course, as welcome as the holidays are, many parents will probably be wondering what to do with their children to keep them entertained, be it on long journeys or during rainy days. The good news is that there are lots of fun, free and easy ways to make sure that just because school is out, your kids won't suddenly stop learning for a few months.
As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher and your home is a place where learning is happening all the time. So don't worry, every day over the summer is an opportunity to help kids continue to learn in a fun and exciting way. Remember, a child who is playing is refining learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond. Children develop at different rates, but go through all stages of development and play. They also learn everyday - from the moment they are born they start to soak up things like a sponge - at home, out and about, even at bedtime.
Talking with your child can help to introduce new words and how to say them. We Irish are famous for talking, so encourage your child to develop their oral skills by telling you about things that interest them. Help your child to make decisions by discussing their ideas. Maybe discuss with your child how reliable information is and whether the television, newspaper or website is trying to sell you something. If they're younger, teach them how to tell the time or read signs out and about. 'I spy' is the perfect game to play with young kids on long car journeys.
Public libraries are also a fantastic free resource for parents to use this summer. To encourage young readers, libraries around Ireland have organised a reading programme for kids called Summer Stars. Your child can sign up for it, and each time they read a book, they will get a stamp on their reading card. There are book suggestions for each age group and rewards along the way.
By feeding their interests, you will be able to let them entertain themselves. If your child likes comics, then you could get them to write and draw their own comic strip. Or, if they like music and dancing, then you could get them to come up with their own songs and dance moves. If you give them some chalk, they can draw a hopscotch court outside or they could release their inner artist by drawing some murals on the ground. Like every Irish summer, there will be plenty of rain to wash away their handiwork.
A visit to a museum is also a great way to keep your child learning and having fun. It's free into many of the country's museums, and it's worthwhile keeping an eye out for special events or workshops.
Our research shows that parents know how important their role is in helping their children learn but very often they are stuck for time or easy access to resources. By using Helpmykidlearn.ie, a free website developed by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA), parents will avoid hearing the dreaded 'I'm bored' from their kids this summer. The website will also help them to ensure their child's learning skills continue to develop. Positive attitudes to learning occur when learning is enjoyable and fun, and Help My Kid Learn was developed with this is mind.
To use the website, all you have to do is enter your child's age and you will find lots of suitable fun activities to do with them. If these ideas fail to keep them learning and having fun during the summer, then you can at least keep them busy by getting them to wash the car.
Inez Bailey is CEO of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA)