Keep the grandkids entertained with these weekly summer holiday challenges
The six-week school summer holidays have arrived and, in many families throughout the UK, it will be grandparents who are responsible for childcare while mum and dad are at work to help keep costs down.
In fact, statistics published last year by Age UK showed that two-fifths of grandmas and grandads in Britain are regularly providing childcare, because the family would be unable to survive financially otherwise.
While it's lovely to get precious time with the grandchildren and the chance to form an unbreakable bond as you watch them grow, six weeks can feel like an awfully long time to keep them entertained, especially when they seem to have an endless supply of energy.
With this in mind, we've come up with a series of challenges - one for each week of the school holidays - to help keep energetic and curious kids amused until it's time to go back to school.
1. Read a library book a week
Local libraries need our support more than ever, with Government cuts leading to many across the country sadly shutting down. Taking your grandchildren to the library can open up a whole new world to them, with fantastical tales to be found on every shelf, as well as fascinating books about history and the world around us.
Many libraries set children challenges through the summer, such as to read a book every week, which you could easily do for yourselves at home. Let your grandchildren choose their own books, and encourage them to read alone as well as out loud to you. This will keep their literacy skills ticking over until September, and it'll keep them away from their screens for a little while.
2. Master a recipe
Lots of people have fond memories of cooking or baking with their grandparents from when they were younger. Making a basic recipe together such as a batch of fairy cakes or a simple tomato pasta sauce is a lovely way to spend some time together, especially when our Great British weather isn't being too kind.
Grandchildren will love this quality time with you; they'll love getting messy stirring flour, cracking eggs or squashing up tomatoes, and they'll be ever so proud when their creation is served for tea.
3. Learn a new skill
Of course, children are learning new skills all of the time, whether it's their times tables or how to tie their shoelaces, but teaching them a few traditional skills that they won't necessarily come across at school would be a good way to spend a day or two this summer.
Think about the kind of things you were taught as a youngster, or when you attended Scouts or Girl Guides, like knots, for example, although it might be best to make sure they've mastered tying their shoelaces first!
Even something like traditional skipping games or hopscotch that you rarely see children enjoying these days. They're such cheap and fun forms of entertainment, but it seems to be all about scooters and computer games now. Encourage your grandkids to spend an hour outside every day playing classic playground games; it's great exercise and a brilliant outlet for all of their energy too.
4. A local history project
While it's wonderful if your grandchildren want to learn all about Ancient Rome or outer space through your trips to the library, you should encourage them to find out more about your local area too.
Take a trip to the local museum together, or go on a walking trail taking in the blue plaques in your town. Research local historical events together, and see what you can find out using both the internet and books. Get them to make a scrapbook of everything they've discovered at the end of your mini project, and they'll have a lovely keepsake for years to come.
5. Arts and crafts
Crafts are the perfect activity for a rainy day, but instead of ending up with a mess of sequins, glitter glue and feathers, try to get your grandchildren interested in some more traditional - and less messy! - arty activities.
For example, building model aeroplanes has fascinated children for years, with both the craft and the toy at the end keeping them amused for hours on end. Meanwhile, activities like knitting or sewing are useful skills for life, as well as fun to learn, and you could even get them on their way to making their own scarf for the winter or a little present for their parents after they've finished work.
6. Plan a whole day out by themselves
This final activity suggestion on our list is one you can work up to over the course of the six-week break. Let your grandchildren know they'll be able to pick somewhere to go in your town, such as the cinema or aquarium, and they'll have to plan how to get there and what to take.
Help them to look up bus or train times online, as well as the weather forecast, and encourage them to think about what everyone will need with them on the day, such as umbrellas and snacks.
When the day comes, let them take the lead as much as possible, and if they're well-behaved and everything goes to plan, treating them to a bucket of popcorn or a souvenir from the gift shop would be a lovely way to round off your summer together. And maybe next year, they can plan a day out for every week of the break.
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