Making Spring Break Memories with Young Children
In the coming months, school-aged children will be taking a hiatus from the classroom — spring break. We all know that just because your kids get a few days off, it isn’t always possible for us to take off from work or find funds for family vacations. Whether you’ll be heading on vacation, staying home or maintaining your regular work schedule, try these tips from our early education experts to help you plan a few hours or days of memory making.
You don’t have travel far to expose children to adventure. If you’re sticking around the area, consider dedicating a day to exploring our community. Check our iFamilyKC’s guides for great ideas. If you are planning a vacation, research sites and attractions your child may find interesting and involve them in planning activities.
Take your exploration up a notch, by doing a little research. Take a family trip to the library before your adventure, to find books about what you can expect. For example, if you’re planning a trip to the zoo, look for books about animals you might see and where they come from. If you’re heading to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, look for books about art and history.
Your adventure is likely going to spark lots of questions, and you probably won’t have all the answers. Be mindful of the value of these questions and encourage thought with questions of your own. Don’t forget, things you’ve seen a “thousand” times may be new and exciting for your child. The questions they ask offer great insight into what interests them.
Spend Time in Outdoors
The weather doesn’t always make it easy, but frequent outdoor play is important, and studies show that today’s children are spending far less time outdoors than previous generations. Studies also show that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, and have less attention-related problems.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of spending time outdoors:
- Nature stimulates all of the senses. For young children, this can trigger important thought.
- Time spent in nature reduces stress.
- Outdoor play offers children the space they need to run, jump, throw, catch and practice other motor skills.
Even if it’s a little chilly, dress appropriately and get outside – just a trip to your closest neighborhood park can provide a great break from the indoors. For a more in-depth outdoor experience, consider camping or hiking.
Limit the use of Technology
Just because we’ve lost the cord, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tether technology. The constant stream of content that is now available to us and our children can distract from meaningful interaction and opportunities to get to know one another. While there is much debate about the “right” and “wrong” ways to parent with technology, one thing is clear – phones and video games cannot replace the meaningful interactions you can provide as your child’s parent.
Furthermore, we’re beginning to see some frightening tech-related issues arise. Recent studies have concluded that excessive exposure to technology can harm our physical, social, and mental health.
Try these tips to limit tech use so you can make the most of the time you have.
- Schedule tech-free time around regular activities like meals. Once you’ve set boundaries, maintain them.
- The next time your child asks you something you don’t have the answer to, resist the urge to Google it. Each of you make three guesses as to the answer.
- When you’re spending times at attractions or on vacation, ask questions of staff and pick up printed guides and information, so you don’t have to rely on your phone for directions and information.
Your child will have plenty of opportunities to learn and interact with technology, but they can never have too much time playing, talking, bonding with and learning from you.
The most important thing you can do this spring break is to take advantage of opportunities to spend extra time with your children, to connect and bond. Not everyone is able to take time off work or afford a family vacation, but you don’t need a lot of extra time or a big budget to make memories.