It's not long now until another summer ends. Where has that time gone? Here are some things primary school teachers would love to see parents do with their kids this summer.
It's not long now until another summer ends. Where has that time gone? If you're looking for some ideas to fill the last few weeks, here are things primary school teachers would love to see parents do with their kids this summer.
Play outdoor games
The old traditional games we used to play as kids! Games like ‘Tip the can’, ‘Tag/Catch/Tig/Chase’, ‘Piggy in the Middle’, ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ ‘Fox’s Den’, ‘Donkey’, and so many more.
Make jigsaws and play board games
Simple but one often neglected in homes in favour of other toys. Board games, like Snakes and Ladders, Jenga, Cluedo, Scrabble, Monopoly, etc are much more than ‘just board games’. They teach turn-taking, sharing, allowing others to win, learning to lose, oral language development, the list is endless! Jigsaws encourage hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, patience, ability to search for pieces and to complete a task.
Do some Art with your child
Art doesn’t have to be mad creative or expensive. Paint some stones, draw a picture, do some finger painting, put out some junk (cardboard boxes, plastic trays, egg boxes, milk cartons, etc) and give them a roll of Sellotape, some glue, masking tape, and just watch what they will create! Children have such fantastic imaginations, encourage that!
Get them to write something every day
Ask them to help write the shopping list, labels for items in the press, a story, a party invitation, a letter to a friend, even just their name or their sibling's names. Encourage them to spell things as best they can – sound words out, etc. Encourage them to use correct letter formation, and start names with a capital letter (not the whole word in capitals!)
I know you’ve probably heard it a million times, and I know that now, children are more exposed to screens on TV, tablets, phones, etc. And yes, it is all part of this new age we live in. But the damage it is doing to the next generation is frightening. Studies show that screen-time has a direct impact on focus and concentration, sleep, mental wellbeing and physical health. Providing your child with simple alternatives like being mentioned in this article, will definitely benefit them, and I can promise you, their teacher would really love it too!
Encourage your child to talk
A simple one, but again, sometimes we tend to shush our kids, and try to keep them quiet. And yes, sometimes, parents do need quiet time and a bit of peace! But talking to your child, having discussions with them and involving them in conversations (at their level, and when appropriate obviously!) is hugely important. Children’s oral language skills and vocabulary need to be developed more, and we, as parents spend the most time with our children. Next time you’re in the shop, get them to name everything they see. Next time you are in the car, play a game of ‘I Spy’. Ask them to say a nursery rhyme, or name all the counties in Ireland (again, age-dependent!!!) Talk to your child, listen to them, and talk back to them. Children love nothing better than to share their news or tell a story.
Use environmental Maths
Count the number of steps on the stairs, the houses on your road, the wheels of the car. Ask what shape a road sign is, what number is written on the side of a building, how many flowers they can find. Put socks into pairs, stack cups, make patterns with stones and shells on the beach. Count money, play hopscotch, have them weigh ingredients for a recipe. There are so many opportunities to use number, shape, measures, patterns, Maths in general in the environment.
All too often (myself included!) we do things for our children, when in fact, they could probably do it themselves! Don’t be afraid to let them make a mess if they’re pouring their own cereal for breakfast. Allow them to choose their own outfits, pick an activity or a book to read. Teach them how to tie their shoelaces themselves (please, your child’s teacher will LOVE you!!!!!) Encourage them to fold clothes, pair socks, put away their own toys, sweep the floor, clean up after a snack, empty the dishwasher, tidy their room, and so on. Teach them now when they’re young, or you’ll still be pouring your 17 years old’s CocoPops in ten years time!
Keep some sort of a routine for bedtime
I’m not a sleep expert, I know I like to sleep, and I used to get a hell of a lot more before the baby came along, but I certainly know that routine is the best thing as regards children’s sleep. Late nights, late mornings, sleepovers and holiday are all fine, and all part of life. Playing outside until 9 o’clock when the weather is lovely like it is at the moment, it’s all part of life. Push back bedtime by an hour or two if you like. But attempt to get ‘back to normal’ at least a week before school returns. Wake them at normal times and have bedtime back to normal times. For children, coming back to school in September is tough enough and they will be drained, but having them overtired and cranky is not what you, or we want!
Have fun with your kids
This may sound silly, but it’s something I’m a little guilty of myself. There’s always jobs to be done – washing to be put away, dinner to be prepped, bathrooms to be cleaned. Our time with our kids is precious. I read somewhere recently, we get 18 summers with our kids. I know I don’t want to spend those summers ironing clothes, or chopping veg, so I’m going to enjoy my time with my child. I’m learning to be more efficient with my time. Once the baby is asleep, I set a timer for 45 minutes. I do everything I need to do in that time – fill the dishwasher, prepare tomorrow’s dinner, put away clothes, clean the kitchen, mop the floors, sort lunches for the following day. Meanwhile, other half is watching the World Cup, but that’s a story for another day! You won’t want your child to remember that summer that Mammy spent all her time watching us playing outside from the kitchen sink. Engage with your children, have fun with them, because children are meant to be enjoyed!
Written by a primary school teacher and a mother of one who would like to remain anonymous.