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Summer Break and Children Development

Summer Break and Children Development

Term breaks are a fantastic opportunity to engage children in activities that blend fun and development. Whether it’s through creative baking sessions, outdoor exploration, arts and crafts workshops, educational outings, indoor games, or science experiments, there’s no shortage of enriching experiences to enjoy together. This time of year the weather is unpredictable in the UK, and though you get a sunny day if you’re lucky, it is often you find you’re stuck indoors. During this time children can become easily bored and lethargic, and end up tending to rely on technology as a saviour. Though there are plenty of educational benefits of having access to technology, it can also become addicting and consuming. Having a healthy balance in adolescent years is key, especially when it comes down to maintaining good mental health. It can sometimes be a struggle to come up with ideas of what to do other than resorting to technology, however there are plenty of ways to get children engaged in expressive activities. To help out, we have listed a few things you can consider, and some of the benefits that come with them below.

Get Them Reading

We think there’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book when it’s raining outside, so if the weather forecast looks a little grim over the holidays, be sure to stockpile a few books to keep the children away from endless TV and gaming time.

Reading to children has many benefits, including:

  • Supported cognitive development.
  • Improved language skills
  • Preparation for academic success
  • Developing a special bond with your child
  • Increased concentration and discipline

The benefits of reading with children are endless. Children who read with their caregivers report higher levels of reading comprehension, fluency and self-confidence. Reading provides opportunities for children to explore their emotions. Characters in stories face challenges while experiencing and navigating emotions, providing children a safe space to understand and express their own feelings. This process contributes to emotional regulation and helps children develop coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and other difficult emotions. Reading helps children learn about empathy by allowing them to step into other people’s shoes. Through storytelling, children connect emotionally with the characters as empathy is fostered. Children then learn to relate with others, helping them develop a sense of compassion.

Reading Tips:

  • While reading with your child, encourage further cognitive engagement by asking questions.
  • Act out the character’s emotions with your child to practice reading facial expressions and body language.
  • While reading with your child, encourage further cognitive engagement by asking questions.
  • Create a routine for reading to encourage regularly scheduled time for bonding. For example, read together before bedtime.
  • While reading with your child, ask specific questions that open up dialogue on how they are coping.

Bonding & Attachment

Reading with caregiver’s nurtures bonding and secure attachment, which are fundamental for healthy development. The shared experience of reading promotes feelings of safety, trust and connection. Strong attachments provide a secure base from which children can navigate their world.

Trauma & Loss

There are stories that address trauma and loss. From addressing feelings of loneliness and sadness to addressing the loss of a family member, stories can mirror what the child is experiencing, which can help them identify, feel and cope with their grief in healthier ways.

Listed below are some of the books that we recommend that are great reads for interacting as well as beneficial to children’s mental & emotional development:

The Gratitude Goggles (A Children’s Book About Positivity and Appreciation of Life) By Andrea Mendoza-Vascone

An Anthology of Our Extraordinary Earth By Cally Oldershaw 

Little Imperfections (A Tall Tale of Growing Up Different) By Peet Montzingo   

Arts & Crafts/ Creative Releases

In any challenging time, whether brought on by stress, worry or sadness, it’s important to realize that children experience difficult emotions, too. To help them cope, children need outlets to express their thoughts and feelings, either verbally or nonverbally. Art can provide a very natural and safe way for children to express themselves. They can play, experiment, make a mess, create stories, use metaphors to represent feelings, explore alternative narratives, externalise their feelings by creating characters, reflect, and share their art with others. They may choose to use colour, texture, different materials, found objects, photographs, collage, sculpture or film, to express themselves. The possibilities are almost endless and can be adapted to suit the individual needs of each child or group of children.

When children return to school after the holidays, the playground is often abuzz with stories about road trips to visit grandparents, movies with friends, hanging out at the pool, bike rides, camping with family, conquering of computer games, shopping trips, BBQs or just mooching around in pyjamas. For some children, however, the holidays may have also included experiences of trauma and loss. Even if children haven’t experienced distressing events directly, they are likely to have been exposed to news coverage on TV, radio, social media and other sources. Sometimes it can be difficult for children to put words to what they are feeling. The creative arts can provide healthy outlets for children to explore their feelings.

Some simple, calm-inducing activities any trusted adult might invite a child or children to do:

  • Gather a range of tactile materials and images. Create a collage of textures, colours and images that help you to feel calm and happy. What are your favourite colours and textures?
  • Using a range of materials, create an image of an imaginary (or real) safe place. Are there other people there? Or pets? Is it inside or outside? What is it made of? Draw yourself inside it.
  • Draw or create an image of you as a superhero. What is your superpower?
  • Trace around your hand. Then fill it with images of all the things that help you feel better when you are feeling sad or angry.
  • Draw a self-portrait in the centre of a page. Then surround yourselves with pictures of your strengths and all the things you like about yourself. What do other people say they like about you (friends, parents or teachers)?
  • Each family member chooses one coloured pencil, marker or crayon and starts their own picture, drawing for about two minutes. After two minutes, everyone passes their picture to the left and adds to the new drawing. This continues until everyone has their original artwork back. Each person can then tell, or attempt to tell, the story of their picture. The results can be quite funny! Add an extra element of excitement to it by dropping 30 seconds off each round of drawing until you have only 10 seconds to add something to the image!

Colouring can improve your health by, Promoting mindfulness, Relieving stress & Embracing the imperfect. This goes for both children, and more recently adults too. Colouring can help you be more mindful and is a healthy way to relieve stress. It calms the brain and helps your body relax. This can improve sleep and fatigue while decreasing body aches, heart rate, respiration, and feelings of depression and anxiety

A creative outlet serves as a reminder that, despite the push toward uniformity, everyone is different.  Everyone will interpret a creative project a little differently. Creative outlets don’t have to be limited to art projects through — sports, dance, art, hobbies, even computer science are all creative outlets and should be encouraged.

Written By- Dolci Grove (Recruitment Officer)