In an age where families struggle to balance constraints on time and the ever-present temptation of screens, former TAFE NSW Early Childhood Education and Care teacher, Marg Casey, can offer tips on how to navigate school holidays with children and explain why hitting the off button should be your first step.
With more than 20 years' experience, Mrs Casey, said the secret to ensuring school holidays were terrific and not torture was to tap into your inner child.
"Let's address the issue of screens straight up. If you chose to look at your phone while you are with a child, the message you're giving that child is that the phone is more important to you than they are," Mrs Casey said.
"Children pick up on this very quickly and it can be damaging to that healthy relationship you're trying to build.
The importance of Mrs Casey's observation is backed up in a national survey conducted by the Gonski Institute. The survey found excessive screen time had a profound impact on Australian school students over the past five years, making them more distracted and tired, and less ready to learn.
She said having a positive influence on children and building fond memories with them meant being active with them, having fun with them, enjoying new experiences together.
"If you have time off work with your children, you need to put yourself aside for a little while and dedicate your time to them. Really be a part of their lives, slow down and relax. Oh, and be prepared to have fun."
TAFE NSW Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care Student Riga Kalia has learned, through hands-on experience, the importance quality time with a parent or carer can play in a child's development.
She said parents and carers need to be the motivators during activities, and be engaged with their children during the activity.
"The fun play and time spent with children at younger ages builds trusting relationships now and later on.
Something you'll be glad about as they get older."
"If children want to jump you have to jump, if they want to draw or dance you have to draw or dance.
"You are a role model, whatever you do your child will follow. If you want your child to read you should read in front of them."
"These are some of the important lessons I'm learning at TAFE NSW. I wanted to be the best I could be, so I enrolled in the Certificate III Early Childhood Education and care so that I had the skill-set I needed to get ahead in my career."
School holiday activity tips with TAFE NSW Early Childhood Education and Care Teacher Eva Dillon-Smith
- Ditch the screens.
- Be a part of the activities, sing, dance, explore and play with your children.
- If you're stuck for inspiration change your location - head to the beach, draw in the sand, swim, dig holes. Go for a bushwalk stop and look at rocks, point out birds look up in the trees.
- With young children go out and collect natural items like sticks, leaves, seeds and use them to create pictures glued on cardboard.
- Make a picnic lunch with your children then head out to a park together to eat sitting on a blanket.
- Councils and national parks often offer school holiday activities that are either free or very affordable. Explore their websites for details.
- With older children board games, card games and puzzles are a good way to spend an afternoon following an active morning together.
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