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Six parenting ideas for making the most of summer

With the long summer holidays ahead of us, many parents will be wondering how to fill the days and keep their children entertained and productive.  The following six ideas might provide some food for thought:

  1. Set limits on use of technology – persuasive design and dopamine hits mean many kids would sit on their devices day and night if allowed to.  It’s tempting as parents to use technology as a babysitter.  Unless this issue is tackled immediately, it will be difficult to row back on so I suggest agreeing a time each day when technology can be used.  I advise about 4pm and means that before this time, children have to do something slightly more productive or healthy.  It’s great motivation to get that list of chores or challenges completed!  You can use your parental settings to ensure screen time is limited.
  2. Model quiet reading during the day – children unconsciously mimic what their parents do, so if you want to see them reading more around the house, try to ‘get caught’ reading, whether fiction or non-fiction.  Even better if you can use this to start a discussion with your child about what you and they are reading.
  3. Learn something new – Summer is a great opportunity to try something new or develop a skill.  Anything from tennis camps to sailing clubs or even golf days are great ways to encourage an activity that perhaps they have never really mastered.  Students seeking to study a language at A-Level could spend time abroad (interrailing is great fun!), budding sports stars could use the summer as ideal pre-season training time, and pupils approaching GCSE or Sixth Form could be reading some course-related material.  This will also serve to improve their self-esteem and mental health over the long summer weeks.
  4. Use TV to bring the family together – rather than allowing everyone to disappear to their bedrooms in the evening, use summer as an ideal time to schedule a family movie night, with homemade popcorn, blankets, and hot chocolate.
  5. Play games together – perhaps rather obvious but arguably underrated: when do you have any better time to get stuck into a competitive game of Monopoly, balderdash, or chess?  They are fun ways of honing numeracy, strategy and communication skills whilst spending quality time together and giving each other undivided attention. I would highly recommend ‘Exploding Kittens’, although the rules take some getting used to.  Our children love it.
  6. Let them play outside on their own.  Let them be bored. Summer is the ideal time for children to be encouraged to break free from the family nest.  School days are highly structured, and summer is a time when children can be free to simply be children and play.  Perhaps find a few other local families to engineer a few gatherings to kick things off before allowing them to play in the local area, away from adult supervision.  These sorts of experiences are like gold dust for child development.

Good luck, the summer holidays can be the greatest time of a child’s life.  Don’t miss the opportunity to make some fantastic memories and make the most of the time available!

David Paton is Head of Radnor House Sevenoaks

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