The headmaster of a leading independent school has come up with his list of 30 screen-free things for your kids to do this summer, from climbing trees to ditching the sat nav to plan a car journey…
Martin Stott – who hit the national headlines when he encouraged his pupils to complete a week-long digital detox – says the list is to both help parents keep their children entertained, but also to avoid learning skills going rusty over the long break away from school.
An advocate of limiting screen time for youngsters, Martin’s holiday hit-list is aimed at activities which are fun, but also enhance learning, confidence and independence.
“It’s not easy to keep children occupied over the summer, but it’s also a long time away from the classroom and we do see skills that have been built up over the school year going rusty during the holidays,” adds Martin, who is headmaster at The Old Hall School in Wellington, Telford.
“During term time children are working hard – and so are parents, to support their educational journey. I felt it might help to create a list of things they could do that doesn’t let all that hard work go to waste over the holidays, and is fun to complete.”
Martin’s list is aimed at children aged five to 11, and includes packing a picnic for the family and cooking a meal at home, sending a postcard or letter, skimming a stone and learning to polish your own shoes.
“I would love to see children get out and about and learn more about their own community and, yes – avoid too much time on a screen. With the promise of some good weather, this is the best holiday to tackle a list like this.”
Other activities are doing a park run, planting flowers or vegetables, completing a 500-piece jigsaw, learning a poem off by heart and entering a competition.
He also encourages children to get muddy, fly a kite or build a den. Martin says parents should also encourage children to learn how to dress themselves and change outfits, which could be turned into a timed race adding to the fun.
“We find the children who are happiest and learn more successfully at school are the ones who feel confident at school and are independent. Several of the tasks are aimed at giving children that confidence, and it’s surprising how little things like knowing how to get dressed on your own and looking after your personal belongings can help a child approaching school with the best possible attitude, and get the most out of it. I do hope the list helps and that people enjoy going through it and ticking off each one.”
1. Navigate a car journey without using a sat nav – everyone should know how to read a map!
2. Take stuff apart and try and put them back together – broken appliances will do
3. Learn to tell the time
4. Skim stones
5. Clean your own shoes
6. Ride a bike or do a park run
7. Learn to get dressed and change outfits independently in a timed race (ages 5-7)
8. Learn personal data including address, phone number, birthday
9. Complete a 500-piece jigsaw (7-11 years)
10. Send a postcard or letter (text messages don’t count!)
11. Get muddy or climb a tree
12. Write your own top 10 list including things to do, favourite characters, foods or songs
13. Prep and pack a picnic and choose a location for it
14. Cook a meal, have a BBQ or make a sandwich (according to age)
15. Build a den or a sandcastle
16. Fly a kite
17. Enter a competition which has a task element, such as drawing a picture
18. Write a poem and learn it off by heart
19. Climb the Wrekin/Follow the wood carvings trail in Apley Woods.
20. Join a free sports team
21. Read a book or make up your own fictional character or story
22. Camp out overnight – your back garden will do
24. Have a water fight, paddle or swim in the sea
25. Visit the library or enter a reading competition
26. Plan a playdate including what’s on the menu and activities you’ll play
27. Lead a family walk using a map
28. Take a picture of five well-known or interesting landmarks in your area
29. Play football in your local park
30. Plant something in the garden (lettuce and carrots are good to plant in the summer)