Schools out, and the burning question for many working parents is 'Who's going to look after the kids?' There are a number of options open to you, from summer schools to day camps to sports clubs – the tricky bit is finding something that appeals to your child and that fits in with your working hours, budget and needs.
A good place to start is online: there are a few nationwide websites dedicated to summer activities. www.summerfun4kids.co.uk has a directory of day camps, residential camps and courses, special interest courses and sports coaching – as well as lots of useful information for parents on the pros and cons of various types of summer schools and activities.
Another useful site is www.kidsguide.org.uk, which is organised into regions and includes information on holiday courses and summer playschemes. www.summer-schools.info is another site, mainly featuring arts and music courses.
Of course, the other thing to do is contact schools in your area, many of whom run summer courses, covering everything from sports to languages, and your child doesn't necessarily have to be a pupil at the school to attend. Take a look on your local council website to find out about other schools in your area. And don't forget to check with the private schools – many of them offer great summer clubs and courses and welcome children from other local schools.
You'll be surprised at the many ways there are to keep your little ones out of mischief over the summer period.
A lighthearted look at the trials and tribulations of parenting
Nursing a plastic cup of weak orange juice and a Wagon Wheel in some windowless room at the leisure centre is not really my idea of fun but, in the first week of May, that was where you could find me. Failing that, I was poolside at the swimming baths pretending to enjoy being soaked by over-zealous dive-bombers, or standing guard outside a bouncy castle, making sure everybody removed their shoes and that nobody had a lollipop in their mouth.
In case you haven’t already guessed, the beginning of May heralded my lad’s birthday – a joyful occasion, I agree, but also a stomach-churning, headache-inducing, red mist-evoking logistical nightmare... especially as I was in charge of the party planning.
This year came closer than normal to disaster. Having finally agreed a venue with my nine-year-old-to-be, a World Cup football party was booked, cake ordered and balloons purchased. (Gone are the days when a ham butty, bowl of jelly and pass-the-parcel would have sufficed...) However, due to my all-round rubbishness, the invitations went out way too late and school buddies had committed to something else, namely the Ruthin Triathlon. One by one, apologetic messages pinged into my phone, all saying the same thing, ‘Sorry, but...’
Luckily, after much skilful negotiation (and shameless wheedling) with the unsmiling manager of the venue, I managed to get the party moved forward to a time when everybody could attend, and it all went surprisingly well. Of course, there were a few minor hiccups – one boy became a little, how should I put this, ‘perturbed’ to discover that he was expected to eat Liverpool FC birthday cake when he was a staunch Evertonian. Another spilled juice down his pants while the others held their noses and made gagging noises because he looked like he'd weed himself, but overall it was a successful bash. There was a slight punch-up to do with cake portions – one kid deciding he should have the biggest piece because he was the oldest, another because he scored the most goals, and my son because, well, it was his birthday.
However, the biggest piece went to me in the end, the kids obviously deciding that the manic-looking woman with the large kitchen knife was most in need.
Want to drag your offspring away from their mobile phones, tablets and laptops? Why not create a summer party with a difference for your children? Traditional Fairground Hire is a vintage funfair specialist, with beautiful, old-fashioned fairground rides and attractions, just like you remember from your own childhood. Attractions include merry-go-rounds, candy-floss cart, traditonal swingboats, coconut shy, funfair mirrors and much more. You can hire as many attractions as you like, whether you just want a single ride or to create a full-on funfair atmosphere.
And it's not just for the kids either – the rides are great for corporate or private events, and are a great way to entertain guests at weddings.
For more information visit www.traditionalfairground.com or call 07402 846423
Oliver is different. Instead of playing with friends and the neighbourhood children, he prefers to spend time with cuddly toys in a world created by his own imagination. Here, there are daily adventures with sharks and pirates. He doesn’t need anything or anybody else... does he? Readers – both parents and children alike – will love the easy yet effective text, and the message that everyone is different in their own way will resonate with the under sixes. ***
Up For the Cup
With football on the tips of youngsters’ tongues at the moment, this great story of the bond between a footie-mad father and son is bound to appeal. Interspersed with football facts and famous players, the tale of a struggling team attempting to make it to the Cup Final is a must-read for fans of the great game. ****
The Very Noisy House
Houses can be very noisy places, especially when they are creaky and rickety. Dogs barking, cats hissing, a little old lady’s walking stick clumping across the wooden floors, not to mention the constant crying of a hungry baby – together it’s an awful racket, and one which sets off an interesting and unstoppable chain reaction. Youngsters will love this celebration of noise and the clever rhyming text that accompanies it. The illustrations are fun and colourful and a sure-fire winner for readers both young and old. ***
How to Hide a Lion
A very good question... Well, it's not easy, but Iris has to find a way because, for some reason, her parents aren’t keen on having a wild animal in the house. Luckily, there are plenty of hidey-holes around, including behind the shower curtain. However, the lion is eventually discovered and Iris has to save her friend from eviction, as well as convince mummy and daddy that he’s a big softy really. A perfect bedtime story for younger readers. ****
When we were children, we used to gather around a Rubik’s Cube or hop around the streets on a pogo stick until dark. Now, I’m not trying to recreate another Hovis advert but I remember life being good. Then we discovered Space Invaders and life was ace!
My eight-year-old has just had his own electronic epiphany – an inexplicably confusing game that looks a bit like digital Lego and goes by the name of Minecraft. As far as I can work out, your character wanders around, constructing and destructing things. Oh and there’s a monstery thing too… I think.
I wonder whether my complete bewilderment is how my parents felt when Donkey Kong and Tetris arrived on the scene. Maybe not – I seem to remember that the 80s golden age of gaming was more light-hearted and tame than it is now. We saved princesses from rampaging apes, helped frogs cross busy roads, and navigated mazes whilst eating dots – wagawagawaga-ing as we went!
Today’s video games seem to be solely about rage and destruction, which is why I limit my son’s internet access and would never let him play Call of Duty or that one where you go around stealing cars. However, I’m not immune to outbursts of rage myself. I was trying to explain the 90s Gameboy phenomenon to the guy at Currys and he stopped me by saying, ‘Oh. Yeah, I wasn’t born then.’
Now I understand why they say video games make people violent!
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