School holidays and half-terms are ideal time for fun learning activities to be done at home. Learning is not restricted to just homework assignments from school or textbooks. Soft skills such as creativity, teamwork, time management and communication are also important for the student's development.
1. Blue Peter Badge (click here to learn more)
Children aged 6 - 15 produce a short piece of work, to earn a Blue Peter Badge. The brief is open ended and encourages creativity. There are 8 different types of badges to be earnt, including a Green Badge for conservation/ nature related work, Music Badge for learning a music instrument or taking part in a performance. The Blue Peter Badge allows free entry to 200 attractions across the UK, which is great for a family day trip.
2. Science at home (click here for ideas)
Encourage science at home through simple experiments, to develop creativity and curiosity. For students to get the full benefit of science experiments, encourage them to write a short lab report detailing their methods and results. The equipment and supplies can easily be found at home or purchased from supermarkets. Be warned, these experiments can get messy. For younger students, adult supervision may be needed.
3. Time Management
Help your child explore different ways to manage their time. They need to balance homework, family time, hobbies and free time. This could be via a diary planner, magnetic whiteboard, post-it notes, creating a visual timetable. Aim to have a dedicated quiet study space in the home, whether that is a desk in the bedroom or a separate study. Having such a space, places value on the important of academic work, and helps to create a separation between rest, work and play activities.
4. Learning through play
Children thrive by learning through play, and they themselves recognise this also. Often the ideas or strategies learnt through games, are better remembered than those learnt from books only. Tactile games, board games or sports games are great for this. For example Chess, Scrabble, Monopoly, Bananagrams, Articulate, Uno.
5. Minimise screen time As technology becomes ingrained in an increasingly larger part of daily lives, it is also important to create a balance. Excessive screen time can negatively impact mental health, the amount and quality of sleep, and sports development. Outdoor activities such as visits to National Trust sites or Royal Parks, grassroot sports activities and community events, develops a healthy appreciation of our natural world. Easy activities at home include gardening, doing outdoor chores or going for walks.
Maintaining good mental health is important for all individuals. Encourage writing in a daily journal to help express their thoughts and build self-awareness. This is also a great method to improve handwriting and English writing skills, and they build this regular habit.
7. Reading fiction and non-fiction
Support reading newspapers and topical magazines to increase world awareness. Encourage reading books, and then watch the film version to compare and contrast. A great follow up activity is writing of a short book report or a blurb of the book.
8. Watching films, TV and stage shows Turn on the subtitles when watching TV or film, this simple trick hugely increases vocabulary. Films and TV are great, so long as they are in moderation. Documentaries, educational shows, book adaptations, filmed stage productions are all great choices. If possible, attend a stage production such as ballets, plays, puppet shows or musicals.
Group activities are a fantastic way to improve social skills such as communication, teamwork and empathy. Volunteering in particular is an act of charity and gives back to aid the community. These activities will need adult supervision for younger students. Examples of volunteering include: local library, community farm, litter picking, pen pal writing.
10. Taking on responsibility
Giving students responsibility at home which is appropriate for their age, is good for character building and social development. Reward tasks either with pocket money or fun activities such as their favourite meal/ activity/ place. Examples of tasks include: chores around the home, baby-sitting or pet-sitting, helping a friendly neighbour.