As you might have read recently in my blog post on whether kids should be taken out of school for holidays, you will know that I believe that they can, at least for short periods that do not clash with the important run-up period to exams.
I cannot be alone in being the only parent to have asked my kids “What did you do at school today?” to be answered with “We watched a video”. I know that kids learn an enormous amount at school and teachers do a brilliant and difficult job but I think holidays can be incredibly educational too, even those that involve sun-bathing on a Mediterranean beach. Parents should not be vilified for choosing a holiday over a re-run of Madagascar 2.
In fact, I think it is vital that school-age children get to experience life outside school and home during their education.
A few years ago, we took my niece along with our children on a holiday to France. We made a vow at the beginning of the holiday that we would offer her the same food as our children and wouldn’t make a song and dance about it if she didn’t want to try anything unusual. BY the end of the week, she had tried a snail and, while not suddenly being converted into a gastropod lover, she did get the concept of trying things at least once – a valuable life skill in my opinion.
There is also the, to me at least, invaluable concept of understanding that English is not the only language spoken in the world. My kids have now become bored of me saying, “You can have that cake/fizzy drink/other junk food as long as you go and ask for it in French/German/Urdu” and now either just do it or just forego the item in question – it is a win-win situation, no?
Learning other skills is also important. Our family are keen activity holidaymakers and for us, anything that can be done outdoors and has the possibility of reducing the amount of time spent in front of Cartoon Network or playing the Lego Movie game has to be a good idea.
A recent trip to Wales is a case in point. A friend, knowing that we liked activity breaks, had recommended we go to the Bluestone activity centre in Pembrokeshire for a few days. (She admitted afterwards that she had been a little nervous recommending somewhere to us given that we travel a lot – she needn’t have worried.)
If you are unfamiliar with Bluestone, the concept is similar to Center Parcs – a group of lodges and houses (either on a self-catering or catered basis) set out in a village with a swimming pool and activity centre at its heart with hundreds of other activities to do on site. That corner of Wales is spectacular too; the gorgeous beaches of Tenby are just down the road, you can jump onto the Wales Coastal Path easily too and there are all those amazing kid-friendly castles that you can pop into on the way there or back, such as Caerphilly. (Cue cringeworthy Dad joke, another regular feature of our holidays – How do you walk around Welsh castles? Caerphilly.)
Ahem, back to Bluestone. The activity that appealed most to my six-year-old son Seth was to learn to climb trees. I had to agree. When I grew up in Norfolk, there was a thin strip of rough woodland at the back of the gardens on our housing estate. I spent hours in there with my best mate Timothy climbing trees.
Seth has always been a bit of a daredevil and he took to tree-climbing instantly. Very quickly he was up at a height that made me feel slightly queasy. Yes there were footholds and a harness but you always have that slight concern that something might not hold. You can see what I mean in the video below.
Is tree-climbing an essential life skill? Probably not unless you end up picking coconuts as a career although I suppose National Grid emergency engineers might have had their dream ignited by climbing a tree in their youth.
Seth (and me, vicariously) certainly had the value out of that holiday. At least he didn’t have to eat a snail.
This post is an entry for the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge. Wales is the perfect place for a fun-filled family break. They asked me to write that last bit but I actually agree. This post is not sponsored nor did we receive any freebies.