By Denise Calaman, Contributing Writer
Most children view the Christmas holiday as a needed break from the rigors of school but many parents find this to be a really stressful time.
Some parents, who work, often find themselves wondering what their children are doing at home unsupervised. Parents who are on vacation from work and are at home with their children often find themselves wondering what they can do to keep their children entertained.
Indiana University South Bend education professor J. Vincent Peterson says, “In our materialistic society, parents or whoever is working in the family work harder and maybe longer to buy what everyone wants. Communications, which may not have been great before, can be even more difficult. School is out and the kids are often home alone with a lot of free time. The very resources and facilities usually available to parents for activities for their children are closed.”
Peterson offers this advice to parents who are looking to keep their children busy over the holiday break: “Remember that what your family and your children really want most is to spend time with you.” Following Peterson’s advice there are many things that parents can do with their children during Christmas holiday that will help strengthen the bond between parent and child.
It is important for children to engage in daily physical activities during holiday break.
“Young children especially need to get out of the house or apartment for regular full-body exercise to work off stress,” says Jeanette Shaw, colleague of Peterson and also an Indiana University South Bend education professor.
In warmer climates parents can engage in outdoor activities along with their children. Bike riding, picnicking, and nature walks are terrific ways for children to get the physical exercise that they need. In colder climates parents can also spend time with their children outdoors. Building a snowman or having a snowball fight fulfill the need for physical exercise while allowing both parents and children to get their aggressions out and unwind.
When the weather proves to be too inclement to go outdoors for physical exercise there are many indoor activities that will keep children busy and cognitively focused. There is no doubt that there will be countless photographs that were taken at Christmas. Why not let children put together a scrapbook of the family’s most recent Christmas? Scrapbooking is a great way for children to be creative. Most children thoroughly enjoy being creative and putting their own personalized touch on artwork. Scrapbooking stimulates a child’s mind creatively and cutting and pasting, drawing and writing fine tune motor skills. Create a craft station in your home and stock it with markers, pens, paper and other decorative material. If space at home is limited many libraries have craft time for younger children free of charge. The library is a great place for children to learn. Although children are on vacation from school doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t take the opportunity to encourage learning.
Field trips are a great way to take a break from being at home. Children’s museums are entertaining for young children and are a great way for children to learn about the world around them. Older children will enjoy taking field trips to historic places. Another great way to keep children busy and entertained is by taking factory tours. The Crayola factory in Easton, Pennsylvania and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Burlington, Vermont are just two examples of the many factories that offer family friendly tours and activities.
Gift certificates make excellent Christmas gifts. Parents may choose to buy their children gift certificates that allow children to participate in their favorite activities over holiday break. Movie certificates, tickets to sporting events, or other activities will be appreciated by both younger and older children. By attending these events together it offers a great opportunity for parents and children to spend quality time together.
By allowing children to participate in a variety of activities parents will ensure continued healthy emotional and physical development. Parents who are looking for a way to keep their children entertained through the long Christmas break should challenge their children with the activities they choose for them.