Learn something new this summer
The summer holidays can sometimes feel like a challenge for parents when it comes to entertaining and stimulating their children – but these days there are a multitude of rewarding, useful yet fun activities to fill their days.
Intensive summer courses which run over a week or more give your child the chance to learn something new and exciting, gain new skills and embrace challenges and experiences to remember.
Studies show that doing a short burst of something intensively can really boost a child’s development. The use of repetition when learning something new can be traced back to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Chinese education, and is a basic tenet of educational methods such as Montessori, whose founder Dr Maria Montessori said: ‘Repetition is the secret of perfection.’
Intensive courses also mean children don’t have time to forget what they’ve learned between lessons, so there is no need to waste time on recapping at the start of each session, and progress is rapid as the brain builds on new experiences with frequent chances for practice.
This isn’t about academic hothousing or school lessons. This is about giving your child a chance to ‘grow’ in a different way – brightening their holiday time with a chance to try a new activity, or gain confidence, or make new friends, or simply find a new passion.
Here are our top five ideas for learning something new this summer:
1. Intensive swimming courses: most local pools and some camps offer these over a week or two weeks. From complete beginners to children wanting to improve certain skills to gain a new badge, or simply increase confidence before a family pool holiday, they are a great way to make fast progress. Some focus on specific strokes or breathing skills, some on speed, some on safety and lifesaving skills, some purely on water confidence. Either way, they have the added benefit of being good healthy activity and lots of fun. Swimming Nature offer intensive courses during the holidays. swimmingnature.com
2. Activity holiday camps: these can be day camps where children sign up to a week or more but come home every night, or residential camps where they stay in dorms or camp out. Most offer a range of outdoor activities – climbing, karting, high ropes, camping skills – as well as other entertainment and team building games. They are fantastic at building social skills – some children make lifelong friendships – and the residential ones especially teach independence and confidence at being away from home. They’re also great to get kids stepping away from their screens and into the great outdoors! SuperCamps offer daily activity camps for 4–12s supercamps.co.uk, while PGL offer residential activity holidays for 7–17s, pgl.co.uk.
3. Tech courses: there are an increasing range of ‘tech camps’ and courses aimed at your budding computer genius – but while your heart may sink at encouraging yet more screen time, these courses aim to really inspire and engage the next generation of coders, engineers and game designers so that they develop from being passive users to tech innovators. The emphasis is on using their imagination and creativity to really push their digital skills and interact with each other. FunTech offer day or residential camps for 7–15s, funtechsummercamps.com.
4. Sports camps: these can offer a range of sports, or focus on a specific one, often a ball sport such as tennis. They too have the benefit of offering lots of healthy outdoor activity, as well as a real focus on team work, competition and co-operation. They help children gain confidence and self-esteem as they improve at a familiar sport or try a completely new one – they are a great way to boost specific skills quickly. More than that, they could help your child find their sporting passion! Check out the Hoop app for sports camps near you, hoop.co.uk
5. Drama and dance: if your child is a born entertainer or simply wants to have fun and make new friends, a drama holiday course is perfect. Combining music, improvisation, dance, singing and theatre skills, they are a fantastic way of improving confidence and allowing self-expression and creativity. Many courses end with a special performance the children have worked towards, giving them a great sense of achievement as they show their skills to parents and friends. Perform three and five-day holiday courses focus on building Confidence, Communication, Concentration and Coordination perform.org.uk/summerfun.
Jo Wiltshire is a parenting author and journalist. She has written three books on parenting and provides expert comment for TV, radio, web and the print press.