School holidays are an important time for young people to relax and recharge after a demanding term of learning and regimented rules and expectations. There is so much going on at school, so much packed into the school curricula, and so much going on in the social arena that many children feel stressed or overwhelmed or even just that they want a break. School holidays come as a much welcomed change of pace and routine, are a wonderful time for children to kick back, relax, do what they want, and explore and grow in other areas.
A great way to beat the boredom is to get out of the house and socialize with a school holiday program or camp. There are lots of options, so how do we know what to look for? Let’s start out by defining holiday programs into two categories: those that may continue the stress vs. those that alleviate the stress. There are so many holiday camps, intensive programs, holiday activities and vacation care options. While most of these are educational, you really need to weigh up the pros and cons. ‘Is this a fun and engaging time for my child?’ (Is it a break for them?) VS ‘Is it just more of the same?’ (Just like school but in a different time and place), OR even worse, ‘Is it just boring?’ (Like sitting the kids in front of hours of Disney movies). We really need to give our kids that break, while also making it a meaningful break.
Furthermore, coming into a holiday program for the first time can be very daunting for some kids as there are many unknowns (people, places, activities, expectations and so on), so if you feel your child may feel like this, make sure to talk to them about what to expect, show them pictures or videos, and reassure them. But also look for providers that you feel will genuinely care and do their best for your child.
For a fun and engaging holiday experience, there needs to be a good balance of freedom and structure, safety and challenge, and activity and rest. When this is working well, the FUN factor is huge. Children have fun when they are: active, but not feeling overworked; engaged through challenge, but within safe boundaries socially and environmentally; and are allowed free-will and choice within a routine and social setting. Kids will have a great time not only because there are great activities, but because the providers invest a lot of thought and care into creating this ideal mix to make the kids’ school holiday experience a wonderful time for them.
If your child really loves (baseball, cricket, soccer, swimming, programming, cooking or whatever), then signing them up for an intensive program could make them extremely happy and develop their skills and passion. Just make sure you are getting value for money. Intensive programs are often expensive, so make sure your money spent is worth it, and make sure to check out the qualifications and credentials of the people running the program. This will give you a good gauge of their competency and credibility in regards to all of the factors mentioned above.