The June school holidays start today (29 May 2021). For parents of young children, this is both a bane and boon: you don’t have to wake up at 6am and chase your kids to prepare for home-based learning, but you also have them in your hair all day, all month long. No fear—City News to the rescue with some indoor fun ideas and coping methods for parents.
The June holidays used to be a time where children roamed free in the parks and playgrounds, or went to East Coast Park with their gangs of friends to cycle. Some parents would organize overseas trips for the family to create beautiful memories together in a totally different environment.
But for the second year running, the June holiday season will be spent at home this year with the kids, given the recent spate of COVID community cases in Singapore and the country going into Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in May.
Just like last June, restrictions on going out test parents’ creativity, tenacity and patience. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”, so when it comes to finding activities to occupy our active offspring, it pays to crowdsource for ideas.
Which is why City News turned to some parents to share their ideas on how to survive the term holidays in semi-lockdown. Here are some of the most useful ones.
1. SET A SCHEDULE
Children (and adults) do well when there’s a schedule. It helps them to know exactly what is coming up next and when, so that they have no chance to bug their parents with endless choruses of “What do I do now? I’m so bored.”
Spend some time at the start of the holidays to make a list of activities that the whole family wants to do. You can then draw up a timetable for the week and put it up where everyone can see it. This way, all expectations are managed.
The timetable also lets parents set a limit on screen-time, and remind kids when it’s Mummy and Daddy’s work time so they should do their own planned activities.
2. GET MOVING!
One interesting suggestions we received was to bring out the Nerf guns out for a battle. You can set a target (non-human, like a teddy bear) for the children and let them go wild.
If you have room in your home, like Marco Lee and his wife Wendy, you can play ping pong or indoor soccer with the kids. “We have to recreate the activities at home for the kids like table tennis, playing boardgames or making TikTok dance videos,” says Wendy. “We go out together as a family for night walks regularly or to exercise, or we will all be putting on weight with very limited physical activities during this period!”
Another fun activity is to have family “Telematch” games. Whether you have a large space to do shuttle runs in, or a small space to throw bean bags, you can form teams and compete. Even if you only have space on your dining table, you can get the teams to bounce ping pong balls into a cup. Or see which team is fastest at sifting out red beans from green beans using chopsticks.
Younger kids would also enjoy sleeping in a tent in the living room, or building a fort using blankets and pillows. All it takes is a little imagination!
3. TAP INTO THE WONDERS OF THE INTERNET
With the advancement of technology comes the convenience of online learning. Yes, learning is not just agonising hours of HBL classes. The Internet can also be a treasure trove of skills that your young ones can pick up, with your guidance of course.
Jaime Teo, 8, taught herself to play the keyboard by browsing YouTube videos and using an app, Simply Piano. In just a few days, she could play her favourite Korean song.
“We had a second-hand keyboard passed to us by my nephew, and Jaime expressed that she wanted to try learning to play it,” says Jaime’s mother Chiong Xiao Ting. “She first searched for YouTube videos, then stumbled upon the Simply Piano app. After trying the trial version, she liked it so we subscribed to it and she has been using it since! Through the app, she actually learned to read notes, play with both hands and now she would also look for songs she likes on YouTube to learn how to play them. She even started teaching her little sister how to play using the app.”
Piano playing isn’t Jaime’s only newly acquired skill, says her mother. “She also searches for dance videos on YouTube so that she gets some physical movement in. The latest dance she learned is the kids version of Dynamite by BTS!”
Other kids have taught themselves to solve the Rubik’s Cube and other skills by watching YouTube videos. Like Jaime, there are also the kids who learn choreography of popular songs—some even shoot their own TikTok videos. Done under supervision, this can be a great way for kids to stay active, learn simple tech skills and have wholesome fun.
4. GET BUSY IN THE KITCHEN
Baking became such a Circuit Breaker activity nationwide that baking supplies store Phoon Huat ran out of flour for some months last year.
This year, supplies are plentiful, so why not put on those aprons and bake some treats with your children? Younger children can stir the dry ingredients while older ones measure out teaspoons of vanilla essence, or spoon cupcake batter into muffin liners. The best part of this activity is you and your kid get to enjoy the results of your hard work.
Parents like Wendy Chua rope in their kids to help with food preparation, like wrapping dumplings or making meatballs. Dinner tastes even better when you’ve had a hand in making it.
5. PLAY BOARD GAMES AND CARD GAMES
This seems to be a big favourite with parents. Board games and card games have a certain magic that online games lack.
This time last year, my husband, a card game enthusiast, searched online stores and bought UNO Flip (not to be confused with the original UNO game), Heart Attack and Spot It. Later that month, we introduced our two sons to The Singapore Dream, The New Normal edition. Teaching our children to play card games was one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding things we did during the holidays.
Other games that parents recommend are Monopoly, Animal Chess, Quick Cups, Rummikub, Snake and Ladders, Game of Life, Twister, Pandemic, Code Names, Sequence, and Settlers of Catan. Pick the game according to your kids’ age group.
6. INDULGE IN THE ARTS AND LITERATURE
After exhausting all other activities, or when the parents just need a time-out, it is always fun to break out the colouring material and construction papers for a crafty time. That, or visit the library and picked up a few books for the children to read. While the children visit another world in their books, you parents can sit back with coffee and take that well-deserved break.
Don’t feel like heading out? The National Library Board lets you read ebooks for free using the Libby app, as long as you have a library ID (if you’ve been borrowing library books all this time, you have a library ID). Here’s a pro-tip: play the audiobook of a good children’s book and let your kids be transported into a literary world as you do your own stuff!
If your kid’s into art, there are educational and fun resources from institutions like the National Museum, where you can sign up for online June holiday activities, and the National Gallery Singapore, where you can download and print out art-related worksheets.
No matter which activity you choose, the most important thing is to have fun! Sometimes we forget that there are only so many term breaks we have left with our children before they grow up and spend time with friends more than with their parents. So make the most of these June holidays!