Whenever you have some holiday time to spend with your kids, it is a great opportunity to consider how you might up-skill them and help them develop a few additional strengths (and possibly work on some of their noticeable flaws).
You may need to approach your up-skilling intentions with a little stealth. It is quite amazing how resistant some kids can be to us teaching them things that may be valuable later in life!
As an experienced educator I can tell you there are two essential elements to improving any ability — novelty and practice. They go together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say.
So what are some areas that might benefit from some up-skilling?
As our children grow, they need to become familiar with the kitchen and each year they grow a little older they need to be able to do something new that uses the art of cooking.
We can start with cooking toast, then toasted sandwiches or jaffles and then scrambled eggs. A great way to start developing new skills around cooking is to have kids help wherever possible in the kitchen. Kids who've been shown how to use sharp knives and to navigate around hot surfaces can become amazingly proficient quite young.
A great dish that can be fun at home or out camping is the humble pikelet. This old favourite can be adapted using gluten-free flour, sugar alternatives and even egg alternatives. My mum used to do a savoury pikelet with no sugar and chopped up pieces of leftover roast. Kids can do this pretty easily and it doesn't matter how uneven the blobs of mixture are when they hit the frypan, they still turn out okay. Pikelets are much easier than the classic pancake, which is a bit trickier to turn over and get out of the pan once cooked.
My simple pikelet recipe:
• Mix one cup of self-raising flour with one to two tablespoons of sugar (or substitute).
• Beat 3/4 cup of milk with one egg
• Add to the flour/sugar mixture and mix by hand until smooth.
• Cook in a hot pan with clarified butter or oil.
If you are cooking for the family I would start with at least double this mixture. Once in the frypan, turn over when bubbles appear on the top, then wait just a couple of minutes and they're done. They are deliciously warm with a dab of butter however can be made even more delicious with a myriad of toppings!
2. Getting imaginative
Encourage your kids to create their own treasure hunts or daily challenges so you can stimulate their creativity, rather than being their entertainment manager. It may mean your house will have an indoor tee pee, cubby or temporary stage for a few days, however so much artistic talent and building expertise can be encouraged if you allow them some freedom.
The world is full of fascinating facts and information, and stimulating your child to become a researcher with a trip to the local library is a great way to up-skill them. You will need to find something very fascinating to share with them to get them going, however once they have a taste of how fascinating certain things are in our amazing world they will be off.
You could always start with the mating ritual of the black widow spider — that is genuinely a fascinating topic to whet their appetites. Any trip to the local library is an up-skilling opportunity — but also they are fabulous and free.
If you have a child who is struggling with maths you may consider inspiring them to practise their times tables with the fabulous MATHS ROCKX App where times tables are set to popular songs. It is seriously wonderful fun for kids three and older, and I guarantee you will be singing along too.
Challenge your children to create an artistic piece of work over the holidays. Introduce them to clay, balsa wood, knitting, crochet and threading artwork! There are so many fabulous fun activities online to do.
6. Old school games
Dig out your board games and card games, knuckles, pick-up-sticks, whatever you've got. These will up-skill your kids on how to lose well, how to win well and how to use strategy.
There are some seriously funny games out there that will have your whole family in stitches, and the endorphins will last for days. The Chit Chat Box is a great resource to improve thinking and communication skills.
Learning some mindfulness with your kids is a great idea - and one they will value for life. When you need some calm-down time, have the whole family do my Beach Bliss relaxation (free for EK readers here).
Holidays are a great time to up-skill your kids while having some fun, connecting and relaxing. This process may involve hiding the smart phones and engaging in some serious memory making while work and school are off the agenda.
Just check at the end of school holidays that you haven't ended up with a few extra kids that don't actually belong to you and lovingly send them home. Happy holidays folks.
Maggie Dent is one of Australia's favourite parenting authors and educators with a particular interest in the early years, adolescence and resilience. She has recently released two of her most popular conferences, featuring some of her favourite parenting authors from Australia and overseas, on video. http://www.maggiedent.com