Mums and Dads, brace yourselves, because the school holidays are just around the corner!
The year-end break is highly anticipated by all kids as a time to relax after all their hard work and having conquered another academic year.
In our affluent society, ‘school holidays’ may be synonymous with holidays abroad or expensive outings right here in Singapore (there’s a reason why we’re consistently ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in).
However, not having deep pockets isn’t a reason for you and your child to miss out on having fun during the school break. Fortunately, despite tight budgets and possibly even tighter schedules, there are still a myriad of things you can do during the holidays to have fun together as a family.
Before you start making plans on where to go and what to do, stop and re-assess the concept of having school holidays — what is it, why do we have it, and what (if anything) should you be hoping to accomplish with it?
While the answers might seem obvious, they are often easily overlooked. The main purpose of the school holidays is to provide students with a much-needed pause before embarking on the challenges for the new academic year.
Make your vacation time an opportunity to rest, refresh and re-energise as you spend quality time together.
Here are some wallet-friendly ideas:
1. Hold a Movie Marathon
Screen time is usually limited during the school year and especially during the exam period. Once the school break begins, find some family-friendly movies that everyone can enjoy, and screen them in the comfort of your own home! Bring out your favourite snacks, pillows and blankets, and make a memorable night out of it.
2. Have a Board Game Tournament
If the only games your kids have been playing are on a screen, bring out the board games for some healthy competition and family fun. This activity also serves as a great way to practice and reinforce positive behaviours with your child such as turn-taking and good sportsmanship.
3. Get Sporty
When the weather permits, get outdoors as much as possible. Research has shown that spending time in nature can help to relieve stress, improve eyesight and even sharpen memory and creativity. Take your children to the park and play a simple game of frisbee or football. Plan a picnic at East Coast Park, coupled with roller-skating or cycling. Bring them to the Marina Barrage to catch the sunrise and fly kites, or plan a day out at Pulau Ubin. The sunshine and exercise will benefit the whole family and guarantee a good deep sleep for the kids!
4. Give Back to the Community
In the spirit of the holiday season, encourage your child to think of others who are less fortunate than themselves. Try this simple exercise for a month — each time you go grocery shopping, ask your child to pick out one item that might help a needy family, such as a bag of rice or canned goods which are less perishable. After each grocery trip, place the items in a box at home. In a few weeks, once the box is full, donate its contents to a needy family or community home in your neighbourhood. Helping others in a real and tangible way won’t cost you a lot, but it will teach your child a priceless lesson in generosity and giving.
5. Treat your child to a one-on-one date
Spending distraction-free time with your child is a good way to learn more about them, understand their hopes and even fears. If your child is receptive, this would also be a good time to take stock of the year that has passed, and help your young one set goals for the year ahead.
Whatever you do, be sure to intentionally build in some time to laugh, talk, and dream together. It’s also good to remember that in family life, sometimes the best things tend to happen when you aren’t expecting it! So be flexible and stay open, even when you’ve made plans. Let them tell you what they’d like to do and focus on having a great time together.
© 2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Written by Judith Xavier