After the excitement of Christmas has worn off in early January, most parents are familiar with the complaint: “I’m boooored!”.
Many of us also worry about our kids’ brains atrophying over the seemingly endless and hot summer.
Of course, kids deserve a break after working hard up until the end of the school year and they need to recharge. But there is a range of activities to help quash the moaning about having nothing to do and keep their young brains engaged. Here are seven ideas to try this summer:
1. Summer reading club
To start with something straightforward, the City of Perth Library, with its fantastic The Attic space for young adult readers, is running a Summer Reading Club from 1 December to 31 January. It’s suitable for kids of any age and they can register on Level 4 to go into the draw to win prizes when they log their reading.
The summer break is also a great time to sample different genres so while you’re encouraging reading, why not suggest a type of book your child may not normally consider? Biographies and autobiographies of sporting identities, for instance, can be inspirational and serve as springboards for family discussions.
2. Coding project
This can be done with a Raspberry Pi which is a relatively low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a monitor or TV and enables people both young and older to learn how to program in languages such as Scratch and Python.
A teenage girl I know spent much of her summer holidays - in Perth and on Rottnest Island (where she took her Raspberry Pi wrapped up in a towel) not only teaching herself coding but also developing an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot.
The result of what she said was a ‘figure it out as I went kind of thing’ was a robot with a chat interface, like Siri, except questions were typed in and answers appeared on the screen.
3. Board Games
Turn off the devices and get out some gold old-fashioned board games. I have some great memories of Monopoly and Cluedo games with my kids on balmy afternoons, as well as badly played backgammon and chess.
Geocaching is like a free treasure hunt using GPS technology that helps locate little hidden treasures all across Perth, WA and even the world!
You can get involved and create a free account at www.geocaching.com. The website and the free app show the three closest geocache ‘treasures’ to your current location.
Once you’ve walked or driven to the location, the app shows you how far you are from the hidden ‘treasure’ and in what direction to head. It’s recommended to take some little toys or things along to swap. You can also leave messages online about your experience and check to see if someone has found what you left at a location.
5. Language immersion
Having studied languages myself I know how important it is for Trinity students studying Italian - or any language other than English - to maintain a level of competency in it during the long break. This can be done through books, magazines, apps, age-appropriate movies.
I used to spend some of my holidays in the latter years of high school watching whatever movies were screened on SBS and looking at magazines and books from the library. Now there are apps such as Duolingo, which can send daily reminders of its fun activities even just for five minutes of the day.
6. Writing challenge
This may not be for everyone, but I set one of these for my son a couple of years ago. He often started writing stories but would leave them unfinished at a few hundred words. So, I promised him a meal at his favourite burger restaurant if he finished at least 1000 words by the end of the holidays. His story didn’t have a conclusion, but he hit the milestone word limit and got his burger - and, I like to think, a sense of satisfaction from his efforts.
7. Become a tourist
Explore the city as a tourist and learn more about science, art, nature and our local history at attractions such as Scitech, the Art Gallery of WA, AQWA, The Perth Mint and the WA Maritime Museum. The Fringe Festival also kicks off on 17 January, with a variety of family-friendly shows and attractions.
Whatever your family does this summer, we hope you all have a safe and happy break!