What our family wants Summer 2018 to look like
So how does your kid's school summer holiday look? For us there is lots of chilling out, a few planned gatherings with friends, some day trips, relying bit on the local Kids' club, going to the skate park with friends, and a holiday together thrown in for good measure. Also LOTS and lots of screen time no doubt.
My children are 15, 12 and 4 and they are well and truly Digital Natives. But over the last few years I have noticed that the Summer holidays results in a drop in attention, concentration and reading activity, and I have tried lots of ways to keep their brains ticking over. Tutor - check, but I'm told never again. Online learning - check, but again, never again. Explore Learning, check. You guessed it, never again. So, this year we'll settle for some reading and bit of revision here and there. Watch this space ;)
And so I'm all for a bit of low level bribery. My kids are big enough to understand that being in our family means being part of a team and if they want screen/other privileges then they have to pull their weight.
I'm also intrigued that this year there is an article in The Times recently featuring Shaun Fenton, Headmaster of Reigate Grammar School, who suggests that children should do certain activities before disappearing back into their bedrooms and resuming social media or gaming activities.
Now, my older 2 are Fortnite and Love Island mad. And whilst I sometimes wrestle with this, I'm largely ok with it. I sit and watch with them, ask (annoying) questions, and am reassured that whilst the content isn't entirely educational, it is no more brain cell killing than my watching Top of the Pops, or obsessively playing Donkey Kong or Paper Boy was back in the 1980's.
I suppose it's about balance, and about earning certain privileges. And I'm all for what Fenton is saying.
I have always drawn up lists of 'jobs' for my two to get stuck into. We have always had summer reading or homework challenges, however small, just to keep their brains engaged. But I also believe that the summer is a time for switching down a gear, so I'm not all about targets and whatnot, just about keeping things ticking over.
We have agreed daily responsibilities -
- Getting up, dressed and breakfasted by a certain time
- empty/load dishwasher
- putting away their clothes & tidying bedroom
- playing with little Bro
- cooperative behaviour
- Agreed homework tasks and reading
But it's not all werk, werk, werk. In return they have screen privileges, and we brainstorm activities that they would like to do over the summer, which include:
- Theme park
- Skate park
- having friends over/going over to friends
- Air hop trampoline park
- ear piercing
- new desk
- not to mention our family holiday which we all look forward to.
Fenton's list is not dis-similar:
1 Getting up, washed and fully dressed without being reminded
2 Making, eating and clearing away breakfast
3 Taking the dog for a walk (your own or a neighbour’s)
4 Getting some exercise: a swim, bike ride or jog
5 Playing a board game
6 Doing a household chore such as stacking the dishwasher or collecting the dry cleaning
7 Reading a book.
Having a summer to remember for all the right reasons does not just happen by chance. For me it's about being intentional. It takes planning, and if your children are old enough it needs to involve them too.
So how do you want your summer to look for your children? And what about you? It doesn't have to be all soft play and skate parks for you too. Is there space amongst all the taxiing and your other commitments for you do something for yourself that you enjoy too?
I'm really interested to know how you get on with your summer planning, so be sure to share your thoughts on insta using the hashtag #MumsMicroRetreat