School’s out! Now what?
There are a few times throughout the year when you will find the school calendar with holes to fill. And, unless you want to hear, “Mom, I’m bored!” every five minutes, you should devise a plan of action that is two parts interactive, one part learning, and a whole lot of fun. We’re not saying you have to be the entertainment committee for all hours of the day, but creatively crafting a to-do list built with your littles’ point of view in mind can guarantee memories are made and laughter ensues.
Don’t forget to include the kiddos in this strategy sesh. Think of it as creating a family bucket list—everybody gets to throw ideas into the ring. You can document the activities with photos and a journal to see what worked and what didn’t and to carry over any items that time ran out on.
So what’s a good starting place for any household? Here are four activities that can be adapted to any age group and location:
Hit the road.
Road trip for the day. Pull out the map—yes, a physical one—and plot out interesting sites within driving distance. Day-to-day life gets so busy that people rarely get to open their eyes to what’s around them. Explore a nearby town or check out one of the country’s 400+ national parks, most of which don’t charge an admission fee. There is also a program that gives year-round free access to fourth graders and military members.
Keep in mind, the park system is much more than forests and hikes and includes historical sites like President Abraham Lincoln’s birth site, the Tuskegee Airmen Historic Site honoring the “Red Tails,” or the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Taking a road trip is a great way to insert some historical education into the break from school—without the kids even realizing it!
ACTIVITY TIP: Create or buy a passport that lets your child chronicle the number of parks your family visits each year. You can even ask one of the rangers to stamp or sign it.
Build a scavenger list
Your kids probably have different interests, and you do, too. Challenge yourselves to think outside the box with a little research. Each member of your family can give a vague description of an activity he or she wants to do around your county. It is up to the others to guess what that activity is. Whoever guesses the most spots gets to pick the order in which you’ll tackle them. These activities can be anything from seeing a movie that’s playing in theaters to visiting the zoo or hitting the skating rink.
Visiting art galleries and the theater exposes kids to interactive learning in a unique way. These venues let the information in textbooks come to life through paintings and plays, while also teaching children about different versions of the arts.
There are also over 35,000 museums across the US; some focus on science, history, and children’s activities. Parents Magazine ranked this list of their top 15 museum picks around the nation.
If you’re a working parent or have typical adult responsibilities to do, neither of those things come to a halt just because the school system is closed. A kid swap is like a play date that is mutually beneficial. Offer to take a friend or neighbor’s children for one day and in exchange for them taking yours another day. This swap allows the kids some playtime with friends and frees up your time to take care of the things you need to get done.
Schools typically hand out a calendar in advance so parents can plan for those half days and days off (except when Mother Nature decides to give an impromptu snow or weather event). Consulting the school calendar before the school year begins gives you plenty of time to establish a family blueprint and to get some input from the small humans in your home. By mapping it out, time off will become something everyone looks forward to because there is an imaginative plan in place.
What are your go-to activities for engaging the kids over holiday breaks?