what are we do­ing to­day, mum?

One way to keep your child well-en­ter­tained dur­ing the school hol­i­days is to let her de­cide and plan her ac­tiv­i­ties, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - AGE BY STAGE 5-6 YEARS -

It’s the school hol­i­days, and you know from past ex­pe­ri­ence that hardly an hour is likely to pass with­out your six-yearold ask­ing: “Mum, what are we do­ing to­day?” She just takes each day as it comes, pas­sively wait­ing for you to do ev­ery­thing for her, whereas you feel she’s old enough to start plan­ning her time and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Get your child to think about her hol­i­day sched­ule early. Ex­plain that she will have a lot of free time over the next few weeks and that you want to make sure she has an en­joy­able time. She is likely to be agree­able – and ex­cited.

Ask her to think about ac­tiv­i­ties she might like dur­ing the school hol­i­days. Go through places you have vis­ited that she might like to go again (mu­se­ums, play­grounds, parks, cy­cle tracks, and so on) and new ones she has in mind.

En­sure that she doesn’t sim­ply in­clude the most ex­pen­sive or most com­pli­cated ac­tiv­i­ties (for in­stance, a trip in a he­li­copter). Fa­cil­i­ties in your neigh­bour­hood, such as the pool, park or cinema can be just as much fun.

She can also en­joy her­self at home with ac­tiv­i­ties like art, games and puz­zles. To­gether, you can come up with a long list of ways to keep her amused dur­ing the hol­i­days.

Let her choose

Once you have agreed on the ac­tiv­i­ties, di­vide them into cat­e­gories like “Home”, “In­doors” and “Out­doors”.

Af­ter that, sub-di­vide these ac­tiv­i­ties into “Free”, “Cheap”, or “Ex­pen­sive”. Now ask your child to choose two or three from each. Al­ter­na­tively, she can pick more from “Home” and only one from “Out­doors”.

What mat­ters is that you both iden­tify a range of ac­tiv­i­ties that is achiev­able, re­al­is­tic and en­joy­able.

Sched­ul­ing time

Create a time­line on her wall, with a space un­der each day dur­ing the school break. Sit with her and fill in each space with one or two of the cho­sen ac­tiv­i­ties from your list.

Let her make some de­ci­sions, but pre­pare to guide her if, for ex­am­ple, she in­cludes all the ex­pen­sive out­door ac­tiv­i­ties on the first day. She may take a day or two to do this. Write all en­tries in pen­cil un­til both of you are sat­is­fied with the plan.

Each evening, as she goes to bed, en­cour­age her to look at the plan for the next day and the week ahead. Sug­gest that she thinks about the clothes she will need to wear for each ac­tiv­ity, snacks she might want to bring, trans­port op­tions (if it’s not at home), and equip­ment or toys.

Such in­volve­ment gives her some own­er­ship of her sched­ule and sets her think­ing and plan­ning ahead. She doesn’t do ev­ery­thing by her­self, but she has some re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Not only will it stop in­ces­sant ques­tions, but she’ll also de­velop more en­thu­si­asm for the plan since she was in­volved in its cre­ation. And once she sees that plan­ning works for this hol­i­day, the next one will be­come eas­ier.

In­volv­ing her in plan­ning gives her some own­er­ship of her sched­ule and will get her think­ing ahead.

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