Skip to main content


Ice cream | The Good Schools Guide1 July 2020

We’re all grappling with the prospect of six or more weeks of school holiday. Most of us can forget about sandy beaches and reclining by the pool. Instead, as we approach the indistinct point when term ends and holiday begins, the forecast is for more of the same. Given that most of us have been stuck at home juggling jobs, work supervision and never-ending meal preparation since mid-March, labelling the summer holidays ‘keep calm and carry on (and on)’, probably feels about right. Right?

While screen time for most children has gone through the roof and all parents are crying out for a break from pixels, technology can feed practically every interest and allow people to develop new skills; read on for our suggestions of great quick fix activities to keep children’s brains ticking over.

  • Touch typing is a skill which, if mastered, will set your children up for the future. Read more here.
  • Take a first aid course. There are plenty of videos and online tutorials offering the basics of first aid and you can also sign up for online classes on Zoom.
  • Baking requires thought, care, precision and maths! Sure, you probably don’t want the oven on when it’s blistering outside but for washed-out days, assembling the perfect sponge cake requires just the right amount of mental strain for the holidays. Take a look at these recipes.
  • There is a staggering number of educational apps designed to help with school work and home learning. We bring you our top ten.

Museums and other visitor attractions seem likely to open their doors over the next month but many people will be understandably cautious about venturing out to such places. Online, though, the world is your oyster.

  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC may be closed but its virtual tours provide the opportunity to walk through the galleries and view certain exhibits in incredible detail thanks to giga-pixel images.
  • The Vatican has a series of virtual tours on its website. Marvel at the frescos of the Sistine Chapel which you can explore up close and personal in stunning high definition.
  • Science Museum in London offers virtual tours, guided videos of galleries and exhibitions, 325,000 online objects and activities you can do at home.
  • The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh and the entire collection is viewable online, as are the 4k gallery tours and painting tutorials available on museum’s YouTube channel. Perfect for your ultra high definition TV.

When screen time really has reached a point of excess or if you’re more of a traditionalist, then the following might help.

  • Writing a diary is a great way to document a period which will be talked about for centuries to come. Fifteen minutes set aside every day for detailing adventures, tasks and rain-imposed confinement will stir a child’s creative juices. And while it’s unlikely that the phone is far from their thoughts, keeping it handwritten ensures they will at least remember how to hold a pen or pencil!
  • Writing letters or postcards to elderly relatives and friends is a fantastic way to keep in touch with those you have not been able to see during lockdown. A handwritten letter through the post feels quite special in the 21st century and is always appreciated.
  • Drawing and painting tax a different part of the brain but offer excellent possibilities for screen-free challenges and can be combined with fresh air and the natural world. Maybe put on an exhibition at the end of the holidays?

Of course, the hope is that come September all schools will reopen and that life will begin tiptoeing back to normal. That’s certainly what we’re looking forward to. In the meantime, good luck for the holidays and have fun with family and friends.

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Moving the desks won’t make the results better

    Bernadette John, our Director of Special Educational Needs, despairs at yet another pointless idea from The Department of Education. The school admissions system is, apparently, now taking the blame for the lack of social mobility which is blighting opportunities and depriving the nation of much-needed talent.

  • About the number one UK trusted school guide.

    The Good Schools Guide is the UK’s number one school guide, helping parents in every aspect of choosing the best education for their children. Trusted by parents for over 30 years, the guide includes unbiased and candid school reviews and in-depth articles on education-related issues. It is available in print, online to subscribers or through GSG’s expert consultants. Uniquely, each school is selected on merit alone. No one can buy their way into the GSG’s good books. And from famous names to local treasures, their writers visit every single school, interview the head, speak to pupils and parents, analyse academic…

  • For 'Grammar Schools' read 'Fee-Paying Schools'

    One criticism of grammar schools is that they take a disproportionate number of children from privileged backgrounds. A far smaller number of grammar school pupils receive the pupil premium than pupils in comprehensive schools.

  • Sad stories of wasted opportunities for children in need

    Buttle UK is a charity which supports disadvantaged children. One of its more imaginative and bolder initiatives has been to fund places at boarding schools for children who are thought likely to benefit from the opportunities this would provide. The project has been sensitively designed so as not to create divisions between children and their own families and social milieu.

  • Time and places

    The initial furore over National Offer Day is over - although, of course, the next one - Primary School Offer Day - is only six weeks away and we'll have to go through the whole miserable experience again. We, at The Good Schools Guide, along with everyone else, get worked up on behalf of children who are not allocated their first choice school or, far more worrying, children who get offered none of their six choices. It isn't good enough and shouldn't be happening.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
 Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools
 Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

The Good Schools Guide manifesto for parents