Article first appeared in the Portugal Resident.
Summer holidays are here, and I know from personal experience that for some parents this is a joy and a pleasure and for others a struggle to juggle work, childcare and finding activities that won’t break the bank and will keep all ages amused.
As it very much looks like this summer will continue to be impacted by the Covid pandemic, we will also be faced with staycations and, in many cases, for the first time remaining at home for what can seem like an eternity!
Many parents are also concerned about the age-old dilemma of, is it a time to continue learning or should kids be kids?
No one wants to feel that they are counting down the minutes until their children return to school! We want to enjoy both our children and our own summer too!
Educational research has reinforced the notion that a happy medium is the best arrangement.
When it comes to summer learning, there is the option of engaging a private one-to-one tutor if you feel your child would benefit from some individualised additional learning in certain subject areas. As a family, I always encouraged a summer of choosing and investigating areas of individual interest such as a project on hot air balloons, the Algarve or a favourite sporting idol.
You might consider setting the whole family a reading challenge. Summer holidays afford children the time to read without time restrictions, and should be encouraged daily for the whole family. The Book Trust and National Literacy Trust have lots of recommendations.
It is also important to ensure that all children retain a form of daily structure. Everybody enjoys sometimes staying all day in their pyjamas. However, by simply encouraging eating breakfast at the same time each day, children will respond positively to routine structure in their day. It will go a long way to preventing the ‘I’m bored’ scenario and endless days of screen time and television. It is always good to acknowledge that no child will remember their best day of watching telly!
Summer is also the time to encourage free play, the trying of new activities, outings and picnics with family and friends, albeit socially distanced, create bivouacs in the garden, and enjoy our own environment.
This summer allows us the opportunity to make memories by investigating all that the Algarve has to offer:
▪ Summer School Programmes – good schools will offer a fully comprehensive summer programme available to both internal and external students. These schemes are usually operated on a weekly basis. I know that our school includes a broad range of activities from sailing, to art and design and sporting competitions.
▪ Local councils also offer a range of summer activities for children of all ages. This is an ideal opportunity for your child to improve their Portuguese language skills.
▪ Act like a tourist and enjoy fantastic days together at one of the Algarve’s many fun parks such as Zoomarine, Aquashow, Slide & Splash, Krazy World Zoo, Aqualand, Sand City to mention only a few.
▪ Try something completely new like Algarve footgolf or zip lines at Parque Adventura.
▪ Have a day at a quiet beach. Use the environment agency (APA) app called “InfoPraia” to find a suitable quiet beach.
▪ Go on a boat ride as a family. Lots of excursions at reasonable rates are available to visit the famous caves or go dolphin spotting.
Ultimately, there are only 18 summers in a childhood! So, as parents, we need to ensure that we make this one count, despite the unprecedented times that we are living in!