10 Tips to keep your kids happy this holiday

Kids look forward to the holidays all year long. Amid all the fun and merriment, keep their brains exercised and engaged. Here are a few ways to prevent the summer brain drain.

1. Switch off the TV and go live

This holiday, give the television a break too. Instead, take your kids to watch theatre shows or outdoor concerts. Live shows teach children the value of audience participation and boost their confidence. Introducing them to different forms of storytelling (other than movies) is also good for their cognitive development.

2. Get out!

Encourage your kids to play outside. Set up sports-related activities, treasure hunts and obstacle courses. If it’s raining, set them up inside… as long as you encourage the kids to move. The World Health Organization recommends that children from ages five and up stay active for at least 60 minutes a day. Exercise is important for your child’s growth as it helps to develop and strengthen muscle and bone tissue.

3. Exercise mental muscles

Develop your child’s critical thinking skills with visits to a museum, the aquarium, planetarium or nature reserves. Being exposed to different educational environments allows children to engage in active learning experiences, while at the same time applying what they have learnt in the classroom, to a real situation.

4. Hide the phone 

Give your child’s cell phone some time off. Break out the board games or make up new games with rewards as incentives. Replace playing games on the phone with age-appropriate fun that help develop problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, interpersonal skills and increased concentration span.

5. Cook up a storm

Make nutrition and exercise fun by allowing your children to be part of creating their own healthy snacks. Take your little one shopping for groceries and teach them how to read food labels. Allow them to make healthy food choices on their own. This way, they will be less likely to be fussy about eating healthy food. Did you know that grocery shopping and cooking are also good ways to develop kids’ maths skills?

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6. Create a masterpiece

Arts and crafts are good ways to build strong family bonds. Psychologists recommend art therapy and play, as both are sensory-based, and don’t rely on verbal cues. These exercises encourage your child to be creative and express themselves in an organic manner. It also helps with developing fine motor skills, teaches languages through visual aids (shapes and colours) and inspires creativity and inventiveness.

7. Pop into the library 

One of the best ways to keep your child busy, engaged and entertained is through books. Books help to:

  • keep the brain active.
  • develop a deeper parent/child bond if you actively read and discuss books with your children.
  • nurture the imagination.
  • expand language and vocabulary skills.

Visit your local library, have storytelling sessions or enrol them in summer programmes.

8. Let them be boss for a day

Choose a day where your child gets to set the schedule. Give them the chance to create and set rules. Use this as a learning opportunity to act as a guide. You may not always agree, and their decisions may not be all that healthy, but relax your rules for a bit. This exercise should be about showing your child that their individual choices and decisions matter.

9. Host play dates with other children

Encourage social interaction and interpersonal skills with play dates or sleepovers. Whether it’s with friends or family, a big part of your child’s learning focuses on communication and social interaction. A study by the National Centre for Biotechnology confirms that a social child is a happy and well-adjusted child, and that play dates mitigate issues like loneliness and depression.

10. Encourage business skills

Plan entrepreneurship projects. Get the whole family involved and let your child use the opportunity to bake, build, craft and then sell their goods. The opportunity to learn and develop these skills will boost your child’s confidence while at the same time, nurture economic management skills.

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