“Not another school holiday!” most parents are thinking just as many schools in the UK start a two weeks Easter Holiday. Whether you’re a full time working parent or a stay at home parent, you may well be dreading it. “How am I going to entertain the kids over two weeks!!??”.
Don’t fret, here are a few suggestions.
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17 things to do during half term
Whether you’re a stay at home parent or a working parent taking time off with your children, this is a great opportunity to take it easy and make it special. If you want your child to develop their language skills, there’s a special message for you at the end of this post
1. Go on holiday (preferably somewhere your target language is spoken) – check Expedia’s latest deals here*
2. Days out in a big city or the countryside – see section below for suggestions
3. Organise playdates and other socials with families who speak the language
4. Go to parks and let them do lots of running around. Play traditional games where you speak the language. In this age of tablets and mobiles, it’s nice to reminisce about your childhood games
5. Connect with your children by telling stories from your childhood and ancestors. Explore your family tree
6. Read… a lot! Dig our some books that may be gathering dust out of sight and pile them somewhere accessible
7. After all of that, it’s ok to watch some TV or a DVD in the target language (find out how to use Netflix for this). Ask the children what’s happening during the film and ask questions – who, what, when, why do they think… in the target language of course!
8. Search online for images associated with the characters they watched. Print out and colour in
9. Play schools – this is currently the girl’s favourite game. Find out more here
10. Role Play. Most kids love dressing up and pretending to be someone else, or a specific scenario like school, the shops, the theatre. Many parents don’t like getting involved in these games but it’s actually quite fun. Why not initiate a role play where you are the stallholder in a market in France/Italy/Spain/Portugal/your country? I sometimes, if I’m feeling lacking in energy, I give them the tools: dressing up, fruits, shopping basket and purses. Then I set a passive role for myself – the banker handing out the cash – and let one child play the stall holder and the other the buyer. Other times I get stuck in. I quite enjoy it actually, and it’s great to see their little minds run riot.
11. Listen to music, dress up and have a disco! It’s not all about nursery rhymes, you know? Kids like pop and rock too! Just make sure the lyrics are appropriate. Why not pick a song in the target language that they like and have it on repeat so they learn by heart? We’re doing that with our current favourite:
12. Go to museums, for example the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has a great collection and also a free play area. There are plenty of opportunities to talk about seafaring, boats, history, etc, and to establish links with your own country if close links exist. Or pick a museum where you might find a link to your own culture and make those connections with your child
13. Many kids love crafts, mine certainly do! Themed or not, it’s great to get creative. See our potato stamp painting project.
14. Playdough – make pizza, cake, baskets with eggs., dinossaurs.. let them get creative
15. Cook together – make traditional recipes from your country together, or just simple cookies. Here’s Amelia helping prepare lunch. She’s nearly 3 years old, so most of her jobs involve washing, mixing and cracking eggs.
Here’s a little hack: when I’m too tired to bake, but the girls want to bake a
cake, I just get a few rich tea biscuits and set it up with
icing sugar paste and decorations for the girls to decorate. Job done!
16. Treasure hunts – if on Easter, google to find a local one. But watch out for hyper competitive parents! You can do a treasure hunt at home anytime. Just leave clues and hide treats. It doesn’t need to be edible, even.
17. Go for walks to the local woods, park or beach. Observe the plants and animals, the smells, colours and sounds if the season.
Big days out at Legoland, Alton Towers and Sealife are big ones.
Castles, farms and heritage sites make great days out too.
Free days out in London
These are some of favourite days out:
- Horniman Museum recently voted one of the coolest museum by the New York Times
- Eltham palace (loverly playground gardens to run wild and a lovely
- Victoria & Albert Museum which, like the National History Museum and Science Museum has a great education programme for children
- The Southbank Centre always has something exciting happening: performances, food markets, the river, the Tate Modern nearby, and plenty of child-friendly restaurants nearby
A note for parents of bilingual children
If you’d like your children to develop their target language skills, and for whatever reason, can’t travel to a country where the language is spoken, this a ripe opportunity to focus on this ‘project’. Think about it – the usual routine is on standby and introducing new games and activities, new habits and special bonding time with mummy or daddy to develop the language and culture can make it very special. It’s a great start to a new stage in your bilingual journey.
I know it doesn’t come easily to many parents. We get so caught up in day to day life, that we forget about that little detail… sometimes until it’s too late.
When I was working full time in an office, the only time I had to with my children were the weekends, and often these were filled with rushing around (days out, social commitments, Birthday parties, etc) and not much proper thought was given to the minority language. I was constantly on the go, with multiples tracks of thought on my mind (work, home, personal admin, you know what I’m talking about…). Only recently I started being more mindful of my personal time. It’s still hard! I go off-piste regularly. However, by reviewing priorities regularly and seeking to be intentional with our time with our children, we’re more likely to keep on the straight and narrow of the bilingual journey.
Stop for a moment to think about how you can best expose your child to
the minority language these holidays.
Make it fun. Enjoy it.
That’s what we’ve done last school half term, when we started playing schools. It’s now a regular feature in our house. Give it a go, and lets us know how you get on.
FREE Inspirational posters
Because of the struggles I mention above (life getting on the way, forgetting to speak the language, etc) I’ve created posters to remind me and inspire me every day to speak the minority language with my children, and to be mindful of my time with them. I’ve decided to share 10 of the posters with you – just click on the image below to get them. I’d love to know what you think. Do you have any inspirational mottos or slogans you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below.