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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. Lots of apps and website to help with this. 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. The Guardian has some recommendations. Check out your preferred app source.

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.

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