A whole new world

Holidays are a wonderful time. Children are full of energy, excited by the free time they have at their disposal. Parents, too, are a bit more relaxed, not having to rush the children to school early in the morning and not having to worry about their children’s schoolwork and exams.Holidays are also a golden opportunities to help your child explore new interest. The following are some ideas I have collected from parents.

The great outdoors

Organise an outdoor adventure to get your kids back to nature. This is especially good for city kids who may not have the opportunities to venture into the “wild”.

Annette and Mark took their six years old daughter camping in Taman Negara for the first time last year. “We thought she was spending too much time indoors watching TV and reading books the whole day, so we felt that a camping trip would be an exciting adventure for her and she really loved it.” It turned out that their daughter revelled in playing in the rivers and streams surrounding their campsite. “She was a little scared the first night, with all the insect sounds, but we played games inside the tent and by the end of the four days she didn’t want to go home,” added Mark.

Start a collection

An oldie but goodie, children through the ages have always enjoyed starting collections. It may seem a tad old fashion, but you will be surprised how many children still enjoy this.

Zarina, five years old, was introduced to stamp collecting during the mid-year holidays. “Actually, she stumbled upon this by accident,” explains Puan Zahara, “we happened to be in a post office collecting a package, when she pointed to a set of stamps and was so intrigued by it that we ended up buying a set for her.” A week later, Zarina had a little stamp collection book and every week, her parents take her to the shop where she chooses a new set to purchase. “She takes that book everywhere now,” adds Puan Zahara, “it has become her pride and joy and she shows it to all our relatives and friends.” 

Art and crafts projects

Most children are instinctively creative and enjoy making things.

Four-year-old James spent a whole week during the holidays making a papier-mache castle. His mother, Ruth had purchased the do-it-yourself craft set from a bookshop. “James had just seen Shrek and was fascinated by castles and fairy tales, so I thought it would be fun for him to build his own castle and he really enjoyed it. Once he started he couldn’t stop.” Similarly, Aimee, aged four, spent her holidays cutting and making doll dresses for all her dolls.

Nowadays there are limitless options for parents to get their children involved in arts and crafts; there are many craft centres that run classes in a variety of crafts and there are also many take home projects for children to enjoy.

Exercise and sports

The holidays can also be an ideal time to introduce children to a new sport. I understand that in some parts of Europe, children learn one new sport every year. I think that is a great idea. From the age of five, we should expose children to a whole variety of sports, rather than forcing them to specialise in one. The point is to let them try different things so that they can find one they really have a passion for.

Mr. Chong spent the holidays introducing his six-year-old son to badminton. It started with taking him to watch a badminton tournament in KL. That certainly ignited the interest in the boy, being there among 10,000 excited people watching some of the top players in the world in action, was a definite adrenalin rush. He did not need to be force to try to play the next day when his father showed him some strokes in the garden.

Expression through drama

For children who are a little shy and withdrawn and who have trouble expressing themselves, drama and storytelling classes are an excellent holiday activity. There are numerous centres offering such courses and I have observed that they are genuinely fun and helpful in improving a child’s communication skills.

Julien was a shy five-year-old who would withdraw when in the company of other children. However, he had a vivid and rich imagination and loved stories in books and movies. His parents enrolled him in a week long holiday drama class that got children to act, story tell and role play scenes from famous stories. He had a great time and as a result of the increase in confidence even made a few good friends, who now visit his house for play time every week.

The other benefit of drama exercise is that they allow children to explore their emotions and to link their emotions with their expressions and actions. To me, this is one of the best ways to teach emotional intelligence.

Volunteering work

Holidays are also times to remember that we are part of a community and we should help others in our community. Young children can be involved in holiday projects that involve helping out and volunteering in certain organisations.

“I was worried that my daughter was growing up to be a spoilt brat,” shares Ms. Yeoh, “she was showing signs of being selfish and had trouble sharing things with others. So we decided to volunteer at the nearby orphanage during the holidays. We got her to give away some of her toys and books and to spend time playing with the children there.”

Similarly, Mr. Wong got the whole family to volunteer, in helping the local temple clean their compound and he took his two sons, aged six and seven years, with him. “I was surprised, but from the start they were really enthusiastic about the it; I think it made them feel important and at the end of the day they felt so proud and happy.”

Movie and book reviews

Some schools get students to read two to three books during the holidays and write book reviews. I think this is a fantastic way to get children interested in reading and parents can get their children to start a reading program whether or not the school requires it.

Rachel’s mother and father took her to the bookshop on the first day of her holidays and let her choose five books that she could read during the holidays. She also got to choose a notebook where she could write and draw her impressions of the books she had read.

Reviews are an excellent way to get children to develop their comprehension and writing skills. The ability to summarise the main ideas of a story reflects a certain maturity of thought and is a skill that can be developed from a very young age.

Photographing and journaling

With technology, children can put together some very sophisticated scrapbooks during the holidays. For example, Thomas got his seven-year-old son to take photos on his digital camera of their holiday to Thailand. He got them downloaded in his computer and into their family blog. Now his son proudly shows the blog to all his friends.

On a more traditional note, Kim gave her five-year-old daughter a scrapbook and during their holiday to Hong Kong, got her to collect photos, postcards and other mementos to put into the scrapbook. Each page signified one day of their trip and her daughter was also encouraged to draw and to write what were her highlights each day.

Children can also be encouraged to compile a photo journal or a scrapbook about a particular person, for example, their grandparents. Helen, aged five years, spent the holidays collecting photos and taking photos of her grandmother and then compiled it all in a special book.

Conclusion

Holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to ignite your child’s passion for life. The number of new things your child can do is almost limitless. These projects also provide a great opportunity for you to spend time with your children doing something you both enjoy.