Believe it or not, we are just days away until the October break! We are aware here at Glendower that parents often find themselves wondering how to ensure their children continue learning without transforming their homes into makeshift classrooms or overwhelming their little ones. Striking a balance between relaxation and education can be challenging, but with some thoughtful guidance, it is entirely achievable and hugely rewarding. In this blog, we will provide five gentle and effective tips for parents in the UK to help their children learn during half-term holidays without having to become, “Mr Daddy, Head of Homeschool Maths”.
Encourage your child’s natural curiosity by planning hands-on learning adventures. Visit local museums, nature reserves, or historical sites. To save on cost, here is a really helpful article with a list of free things to do with children in and around London, for those of you staying local this October. Allow your children to explore, ask questions, and learn through experiences rather than textbooks. The key is to make it feel like an exciting outing rather than a formal lesson. One of our key aims at Glendower Prep is, “To spark freedom of choice and thought so that our girls go on to become gamechangers” so do involve them in the decision-making process about where to go and what to do.
Learning can seamlessly integrate into daily routines. Engage your child in activities like cooking or gardening, where they can develop essential skills while having fun. Discuss the science behind cooking or the biology of plants as you go along. This way, they’ll be learning without even realising it. This is a great time to finally master tying shoelaces, folding and putting away clothes… maybe some of your older girls could learn how to make you a cup of tea in the mornings? Surely essential learning… And whilst mastering these tasks, empower your daughters with the word, “Yet”. If there is a task they are struggling with, and they sigh in frustration and say, “I just can’t do it!” – make them add the word “Yet” to the end of that sentence.
Foster a love for reading by setting up a cosy reading nook at home (Pinterest has a great series of ideas if your creativity is a little dry!). Stock it with a variety of books, magazines, and comics that align with your child’s interests. Let them choose what they want to read, and spend time reading together. Reading not only enhances their vocabulary but also sparks their imagination – and by having their own “special places” which they have helped to design and build will only help them connect even more with the feeling of getting lost in a story. You might even get a few minutes to yourself to drink that cup of tea they made you!
Half-term holidays are an ideal time for children to explore their interests and hobbies. Whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, or pursuing a sport, encourage them to spend time doing what they love. You could look to sign them up for short courses or workshops related to their chosen hobby to enhance their skills, but with careful guidance, you’re likely to find appropriate and free online tutorials and guides (WikiHow alone has step-by-step guides which are often very straightforward to follow).
Learning doesn’t always have to be structured. Encourage creative play where your child can use their imagination. Provide them with art supplies, building blocks, or crafting materials, and let them create freely. Maybe consider hanging on to some of your recycling in the next week or so – cereal boxes, juice cartons, newspapers, tins and bottles all provide great materials for junk modelling. Creative play helps develop problem-solving skills and enhances their creativity, and is a great chance to develop more of the perseverance and resilience that we all want to see in our girls – as they try things and they don’t work, encourage them that this is a result to learn from, not a failure.
Building a learning environment during school holidays need not be a daunting task, and you don’t need to become pedagogical experts or disciplinarians overnight for it to work for you and your family. By adopting these gentle approaches, parents can ensure their children continue to learn and grow while still enjoying the much-needed break. Remember, the key is to make learning enjoyable and organic, allowing your child to flourish without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. With these tips, you can strike a balance between education and relaxation, creating memorable and enriching school holiday experiences for your family. And if all else fails, don’t forget the power of a simple board game, walk, or even just a big bowl of microwave popcorn and a movie together.