Shaun Fenton, the son of 1970s rock star Alvin Stardust, advises parents to ask children to tick the activities off from a list stuck on the fridge before they are allowed to go online.
Children should be encouraged to do 7 activities every day before they are allowed to play on their iPads or game consoles this summer, according to a leading head teacher. Shaun Fenton, the headmaster of Reigate Grammar School, Surrey, has drawn up a “Super Seven Summer Activities” that he says “children should do each day before they’re allowed to disappear into their bedrooms to resume their social media love-in or reach for the games console”.
The activities to tick off before children go online are:
- Getting up, washed and fully dressed without being reminded
- Making, eating and clearing away breakfast
- Taking the dog for a walk (your own or a neighbour’s)
- Getting some exercise: a swim, bike ride or jog
- Playing a board game
- Doing a household chore such as stacking the dishwasher or collecting the dry cleaning
- Reading a book
Fenton says if his rules are enforced then children’s holidays will combine structured and unstructured time every day. Too much structure, he says, prevents the creativity that comes from a child being bored, too little can be just as damaging. “I am a great fan of children having some unstructured time when they are ‘bored’ and need to rely on their creativity and initiative to entertain and amuse themselves,” he said, “but from bitter experience, I know that an entirely unstructured long summer break can mean children lose good habits to lethargy and the games console can act like the Dementors in Harry Potter, sucking out children’s minds and souls. So keep unstructured time snappy.”
His advice comes from not only years of teaching but also his experience growing up as the famous glam rocker’s son. His childhood summers were a mix of running wild and structured tasks. As well as long days playing football he spent summer days “opening fetes with my dad”, running cake stalls and staying up late to watch Stardust perform on stage or on the Top of the Pops. Fenton’s top tip to parents this summer is to make sure they take time off to spend with their children. He advises against booking youngsters into six weeks of summer camps.
“The time is hurtling towards us, faster than we dare imagine when our children will tell us they don’t want us around. So it is vital to make special memories and have some childish fun while you can.”
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