When school’s out, it’s your time to shine. We don’t want to come over as mean-spirited, but we all know that twinge of envy when our kids announce their teacher is a genius. Admit it, there have been times when you’ve almost whined, ‘but I can do that too’. We’ve been there and will be again. So here’s how to use the school holidays for a bit of catch-up in the school v home skill race – not that it’s a competition or anything.

Go beyond the swimming basics

Swimming is one of the UK’s most popular activities and 2.5 million adults visit a pool each week. We love swimming and will try and go a few times a week. So share the love with your children this summer. Even if they can swim already, teaching stuff like surface diving to retrieve an object, treading water with their hands in the air or simple rescue skills, is great fun. And older kids like learning how to do the crawl and breaststroke properly – if you know how.


Be crafty and clever outdoors

Setting up a simple craft table outside this summer lets you get creative and keep mess to a minimum – close to patio doors is perfect for a quick move indoors, if it rains. You just know how quickly the weather can change sometimes. You can do anything from finger painting to origami. But we like paper-mache for impressive results. Once you get the hang of the recipe, blow up a balloon, completely cover it with the mixture and leave to dry. Then burst the balloon, show kids how to carefully slice the paper ball in half and they have two perfect bowls to paint, varnish and use. I have memories of doing this when I was little in school. There are lots of different things you can make out of paper mache.


Master the Hula-Hoop

Trims your waist, flattens your tummy, burns hundreds of calories and impresses no end. If you don’t know how to hula-hoop, this is one you could learn with your kids. It’s not tricky. Definitely a good exercise to fit in whilst playing with the kids.

Motivate ‘Team Family’

There are loads of garden games to get into with your kids this summer and most of them you know how to play. Cricket, rounders, quoits, boules and baseball are all classic games to play when friends are round to make up teams – you can coach or play. If it’s just you and your own little team, set up basic badminton or table tennis: the equipment’s inexpensive and they’re great games for improving hand/eye coordination.


Make kite-flying your thing

Learning to fly a kite makes the most of the UK’s summer weather and gives everyone a fantastic sense of achievement. Simple kites are cheap and easy to find or you could even make your own. Then just hunt down a big beach on a windy day and have your own flying festival.


Show off your drawing skills

Few things amaze kids more than drawing cartoons from basic shapes and, if you can hold a pencil, you can teach them how. Start with easy and instantly identifiable characters and work up to the trickier stuff. It’s incredibly absorbing and one of those activities where you can take a back seat pretty quickly.


Get a jump on tech-teaching

Many of the people who’re responsible for the technology, apps, programmes and social media we all use, are parents too. They face exactly the same screen-time issues we all face. Interviewed by The Huffington Post recently, their advice was to give kids access, work and play with them online, teach them how to use tech-tools creatively and be constructive. So spend some time this summer putting their ideas to the test with your own kids – you’ll probably learn some useful stuff too.


Take the time to read more

With a little more flexibility during the holidays, reading with kids is a lot easier. Start a longer book with older ones and read it chapter by chapter. Warmer evenings outside are a nice summer twist on bedtime stories. And new readers will appreciate the extra time and patience to practice and show off a bit. Here are some of 2016’s recommended reads for the young and not so young.


Teach the dog new tricks

Family pets love attention and getting kids involved in some simple training exercises is good fun and really rewarding. Assuming your dog already sits and comes to command, the next step is fetching. Kids can follow this easy routine on their own after a while. So you can leave them to it and be there for a bit of cheerleading in moments of frustration.



Our nine ideas are just for starters. Most likely there are a million and one things we haven’t thought of and you do brilliantly. Take it away this summer and hopefully, by the time school starts again, you’ll be the resident family ‘genius’. Good luck.


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