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Keeping young minds active this summer

Goodstart centres

We’re nearly at that time of year again – the time when most of us are craving a break, even if it’s only for a week or two. And after a year of effort at work and at home, any break is well earned for parents.

It’s interesting to consider whether our children need a break at this time of year, too. Many parents wonder if they should take their child out of childcare over the summer break to help them recharge, while other parents see a benefit in maintaining a routine while they get a little R&R themselves.

All Goodstart centres appreciate the need for children to have some ‘down time’, not only over the summer but as part of their regular experience in centres. In fact, some Goodstart centres have wholeheartedly embraced the concept of mindfulness and are reaping many benefits from the practice.

So should you keep your child in care, or give them a break at home?

Well, like most decisions you make for your family it’s a very personal choice and really comes down to your own parenting style and what you’re most comfortable with. But there are benefits in maintaining your child’s early learning routine over the summer break.

Most Goodstart centres develop a special six-week summer program and as Centre Director at Goodstart Mount Warren Park - Mount Warren Boulevard, Kate Willis, explains further, summer programs aim to give children the best of both worlds – a break and lots of fun, while still maintaining important routines.

“Our summer programs are designed to excite the children and have them involved in fun learning experiences, so it feels like they are having a holiday like many of their siblings are,” Kate said.

According to Kate, there are many benefits for children and parents in maintaining an early learning enrolment through the summer.

Benefits for children
  • Routine – all children benefit from routine, but it’s particularly important for kindergarten children who are starting school next year
  • Social and emotional skills – by enabling children to keep their social and emotional skills alive and active, and further developed through new experiences
  • Active and stimulated minds – in new ways through a different program
  • Fun and educational – it wouldn’t be summer without fun!

Benefits for parents
  • Time alone to complete Christmas shopping – dragging children through busy shopping centres at Christmas is a job in itself!
  • Peace of mind that the children will stay in routine and are being further developed
  • Knowing that summer programs at Goodstart are new, exciting and fun for children
  • Time to catch up on all those errands that have been pushed aside all year
  • Some well-earned rest, if you can find the time!

So what does a summer program look like at Goodstart centres?
Goodstart centres create individual summer programs which fit with the needs of their families and are reflective of their community. At Kate’s centre in Mount Warren Park, the summer program varies each day and includes special activities like:
  • Planting herb and vegetable seeds
  • A nature hunt and collage
  • Waste free Wednesdays, with a different theme each week
  • Water play days
  • Animal identification walks
  • A Christmas cook-off
  • Seasonal fruit smoothie making
  • A new year’s eve party
  • Making nature mosaics
  • A mini Olympics
“We aim for something new and fun each day which the children love, while still getting all the benefit from our play-based approach to learning,” Kate said.
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