Five ways to keep your child busy over the holidays

School holidays provide a break from school work and a chance to refresh for the new year, but parents will know that it can be a challenge to keep their children happy and occupied over the whole summer. If this sounds like you, our five school holiday tips can help.

1. Check out local activities on offer

Places like shopping centres, parks, museums, art galleries and libraries usually organise a number of activities during the school holidays many of which are free! Activities include everything from sports clinics to arts and crafts workshops, cooking classes and movie screenings. Check local papers or browse online guides to see what's on in your local area (look out for special themed activities for Christmas and Australia Day). If your child is in primary school, check with their school to see if they offer a holiday program.

2. Help them find a casual or part-time job

The holidays are a great time for teenagers to earn some money, as well as independence and general skills, through part-time or casual work. Restaurants and retail stores often hire ˜Christmas casuals' for the summer, allowing students to work from December through to the end of January. School holidays are also the perfect opportunity for your child to gain some work experience in an area of interest, whether this is by popping into the office with you or organising a short-term placement.

3. Head outside

Chances are your child will spend a fair amount of time staring at a screen during their time off, whether it's watching TV, texting friends or playing games on their laptop or tablet. Organising a day outside can provide a much needed break from technology. The options for fun outdoors are endless you could organise a picnic at the park, head to the beach or the local swimming pool, or even do some gardening at home. If you have an older child, encourage them to swap their indoor activities with friends for the great outdoors.

4. Take a family holiday

If being at home is sending the kids crazy, it might be nice to escape for a while. You may choose to go camping (you'll be surprised at how cheaply people sell their unused camping gear online), take a road trip to a new area or state, rent a holiday house by the beach (maybe with friends or family to spread the costs), hit the theme parks of the Gold Coast or maybe even head overseas. Keep an eye out for sales and discounts on accommodation and flights, as many hotels, resorts and travel agents offer school holiday specials. Taking a holiday is also a great opportunity for your child to meet new friends, experience new things, and if you travel to another country, experience a new culture.

5. Encourage them to prepare for the new academic year

As the holidays draw to a close, it's helpful to get your child both excited and organised for the new year. This may include going shopping for new stationery and shoes, colour-coding books and folders, or even just chatting to them about the year ahead. For older children, the holidays are a good time to begin reading their novels and flicking through their textbooks to see what's ahead. This is also a great opportunity to take some time out to chat about their post-school options before classes and piles of assessments come into the equation.

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