Monday, 15 July 2013

Summer holiday planning

I will soon be embarking on my first proper 'summer holiday' with my eldest son. He finishes nursery in just over a week and will start school (Reception / Kindergarten) after the long summer break. Six weeks will stretch ahead of us and for little ones, even one week can feel like a very long time!

My aim, like most other mothers I'm sure, is to make the time fun, keep busy but not too busy, have a nice balance of big excursions and simple, low-key activities at home or close by.

As my son is starting school after the break and has recently been writing his name, and recognising and writing letters, I want to keep up his enthusiasm and encourage a bit of practice with letters and numbers. If he doesn't write his name once in six weeks, I know he will struggle to write it when he goes to school (he has a long name). I want to make it fun learning and for it not to feel like a chore, that is the tricky part!

Then there's my 21-month old daughter of course, let's not forget her! I hope I can find some activities that can be adapted and enjoyed by her, as well. She likes to copy everything her big brother does so where possible, I will help make that happen.

I decided to join in with the play agenda, a way for parents to share their experiences of the summer holidays with their children, activities and ideas that have worked well and also those that perhaps were not such a success. Leoarna, who came up with the idea, has published an admirable vision for her summer holidays, complete with weekly themes and tons of inspiration for keeping her little ones busy whatever the weather. I was very impressed!

My own summer holiday plan is a lot looser and more a list of aims that I am hoping to achieve on a weekly basis. I don't want to pin myself down to too much of a schedule, nor do I want to be over-ambitious in what we might do.  I want to keep things pretty simple, allow for spontaneity, unexpected visitors / play dates / outings, that kind of thing. That said, I would like to attempt the following each week of the holiday:

A big outing: museum / farm / outdoor fountains / big park / boat trip / children's theatre etc.
An art and craft activity: I've been putting away our empty egg boxes, toilet rolls etc saving them for art projects for the holiday.
Messy play: I don't have a tuff spot (large mixing tray) but I've seen some cat litter trays in our local supermarket that are nice and deep that I think I might get for doing stuff like dry pulses, shaving foam, jelly and such like.
Cooking: I'd like to involve my son in helping more with making a meal, rather than just the usual cakes and biscuits (baking). I'm also thinking summery things like fruit (and veg) kebabs might be fun for him to make.
A play date: we enjoy seeing our friends and I imagine we will have someone over to play once a week.
A local activity: there's a music class I take both children to that will be running during some of the summer and there are some events at our local library so I will take advantage of those.
Send a postcard: I have this idea it might be fun to choose or make our own postcards and send one to a different family member or friend each week (incorporating some writing practice for my son).

These are some things I expect us to do several times a week during the holidays:

Be outside: this would be a daily event. It could be playing in our garden, going for a walk or bike/scooter ride, getting some fresh air whatever the weather.
Go to the woods: we are lucky to have a few different woodland spots within walking distance of our home. We love exploring, collecting sticks, looking out for animals, birds etc, playing hide and seek
Gardening: we're growing tomatoes and beans for the very first time so there's always watering to be done and talking to the plants ;-). We prune bits and pieces and load up the wheelbarrow, dig in the dirt and sweep the pathways.
Drawing/colouring/sticking/painting: I've topped up our art supplies recently and will try to provide a variety of materials etc to keep it interesting
Read books: we read every day of course, but mostly at bedtime. We'll no doubt visit the library as we do regularly and I think we'll try to fit in some reading during the day too, maybe getting some books about holidays/summer/school etc

I could be forgetting some things but the above is my basis for our summer holiday plans. I'm big on having time to do nothing too. Both my children are used to playing by themselves or the two of them playing quietly alongside one another and keeping themselves occupied. For one week during the summer holidays we are going away as a family so that will be one less week to 'plan'! I will let you know how it goes.....

What are your plans for the summer? Do you like to plan in advance or just go with the flow? If you've had lots of summer holidays with your children in the past, what can you suggest as good ways to spend the time?


  1. MZ I really like your format, and the emphasis on outdoor play - there was a great piece in the Guardian about the guy who came up with the Project Wild Thing idea; the results of his research into the lack of unstructured outdoor play for the current generation of kids made depressing reading indeed. And if you want to buy a tuff spot, I found some pretty cheap ones on Amazon last week.... Brilliant, brilliant stuff, and thanks for hooking up with the Linky. Any other takers most welcome! L x

    1. Thanks Leoarna! I'll have to look that article up, sounds interesting. Good to know about the tuff spots on Amazon too :-).

  2. What a fabulous idea to plan things out a little, but I also like that you're allowing room for flexibility. The woodland walks sound lovely, and how great about the tomatoes - are they coming on nicely? My daughter starts school in September too, so I plan to make the most of every second. I think it's good to be active in the hols, but also really important to incorporate some 'down time' and just allowing them to 'be' at home.
    Look forward to catching up with how it all goes xx

    1. The tomatoes are very slow but we finally have our first one growing so fingers crossed we will have a few to enjoy. How about yours? I agree wholeheartedly about the importance of down time to and I like how you put it - "allowing them to 'be' at home" - exactly! Thanks for reading. xx


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