With most parents working, school holiday length never matches up with the amount of time most parents get off work. I try and take an extra week unpaid parental leave which gives me more time off, and less time that N has to be dragged out to sit on a tractor while harvest is on. But there are many summer holiday activities for older children to do during their break, depending on their interests and abilities.
Some areas will provide more options than others, and it may depend on cost for many people. I’m lucky because I work from home now, and as N is older, he can be left to his own devices or go and help on the farm. It just means too much xbox time in my opinion, so the more activities and things I can encourage him to do, the better.
It is a bit awkward where we live because we’re outside the village. While I’d be happy to let him cycle up to the village and meet friends, the OH thinks it’s too dangerous. Not having that option means there’s less chances for him to just hang out with his friends and play football. Like we used to when we were kids.
I try and organise some meet ups and days out with friends. Now he’s older, I get more interest and less moaning when he’s with friends, although it is more challenging to decide on where to go and visit. Tweens are at that awkward age where they’re too old for children’s days out, but aren’t going to be very excited by museums and stately homes. So it’s finding those inbetween interests and quirky events and attractions to see.
Some of my summer holiday activities are free, others may involve some cost. But there are things you can do to reduce the costs.
How to reduce the cost of activities
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- Look for local council run hubs and sports camps. These are often in schools or council run leisure centres. Sometimes they are free, in particular to local people who live within certain postcode, or who are on benefits.
- For sports, buy tally cards or short term membership if you’re using the facilities regularly. Tally cards are especially good if you can use them across the family.
- Look for early bird booking or time slots. These can give good discounts
- Join the bun fight for Kids Week theatre tickets. Kids Week runs every August largely in London with booking opening in mid June. Children get free tickets to different shows and theatre performances. Do compare prices to the shows you want to see, as sometimes they are cheaper buying direct from the theatre, or trying for short notice ticket ballots. I’ve got more tips in my getting more from theatre post.
- Remember off peak travel times. School holidays during the weekdays are still peak rates, so think about times you’re travelling.
- Use vouchers. Merlin attractions usually have 2 for 1 vouchers on various grocery items (you can’t usually book in advance with these annoyingly). Use cashback sites through the year to build up extra cash. Or convert loyalty card points into vouchers.
- Share costs with friends. If you want to book a coach for a sports session why not team up with friends to split the costs or if you’ve got family annual pass often they include more children, so maybe switch it up with friends, you take their kids and vice versa for something different.
Summer holiday activities for school age kids
1. Sports camps
Many cities offer summer camps for different sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, and more. Otherwise, let them loose on their bikes to explore.
2. Arts and crafts
Try art classes or attending workshops on painting, drawing, sculpture, or other art forms. They can even learn from Youtube.
Volunteering is a great way for older children to get involved in their communities and make a difference. They could volunteer at a local food bank, animal shelter, or other nonprofit organization.
If money’s not an issue, try residential summer camps or going on a youth group trip. Alternatively staycations work – where you treat home as your holiday, and do things you’d do while on holiday. Go swimming, eat in restaurants, do day trips, go on a road trip. Get tweens and teens to decide the itinerary.
5. Outdoor activities
Summer is a great time for outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, or boating. Let them camp out in the garden with friends, and cook their own breakfast in the morning. Or drop them at an outdoor swimming pool if they’re good swimmers. We used to spend all day in our summer holidays with friends at our local outdoor pool as teens.
Summer is a great time to encourage older children to read more. They could join a summer reading challenge at their local library or bookstore, or simply spend time reading books that interest them. Why not have a family book club, or encourage them to set one up with friends who enjoy reading. Creating a nice reading area outside with refreshments might make it more fun.
7. Learning a new skill
Summer is a great time for older children to learn a new skill, such as cooking, coding, or a new language.
8. Exploring the city
Older children might enjoy exploring their city and visiting museums, parks, and other attractions they haven’t seen before.
9. Go street art hunting
Do a walking tour, or just find the cool street art in your own town or city. Watch out for street art festivals happening, when you can do your own tour to spot all the artwork.
10. Sculpture trails
Not just for young children, art or sculpture trails are a great way to learn your way around a city or town, and make for some great photo opportunities.
11. Building things
Older children might enjoy building things, such as radio control airplanes, robots, or other projects that require problem-solving skills and creativity.
12. Socializing with friends
Summer is a great time for older children to spend time with friends, whether it’s playing sports, going to the movies, or just hanging out.
13. Education introduction courses
While most children don’t want to spend their holidays doing school work, as they get older they might be wanting to get credits that are a bit different to add to their university application forms. Or get ideas for jobs they might be interested down the line.
Keep a watch out for (sometimes free or subsidised) courses that universities and other organisations run on specific subjects as taster sessions. Universities tend to be for 6th form ages, but I’ve seen lots advertised on social media for half to full day courses on medicine, engineering and other subjects for children. These are generally age 14+, but I’ve seen them for as young as 11. Some can be done online, others are face to face. They do get booked up really quickly, but worth keeping an eye on and signing up for access information.
They’re no longer dry and boring, you just need to find museums that click for your children. Try immersive places like Van Gogh or Dali shows, or quirky ones that you’ve never really thought of before that seem to be springing up all over the place. And avoid the crowds at the really popular ones during school holidays. Some even have VR immersive experiences which we loved.
15. Live immersive events
Usually run around a city or town, these are often themed with teams needing to solve clues, meet characters and get to the end of the game. Look out for early bird or discount offers.
16. Escape rooms
Although you can go to an escape room venue, it’s also possible to do it yourself. Whether that’s ordering a game online, or making it up totally from scratch. Go themed or just solve the mysteries. Just make sure you’re ordering or visiting age appropriate if your children are younger teens or tweens.
17. Food festivals
Maybe not the cheapest if you’ve got an always hungry tween or teen, but a great opportunity for them to choose and try different foods, and likely chill out and listen to music. We’ve visited quite a few that we’ve come across by accident while on holiday in local parks which have been free to enter, and N’s really enjoyed the buzz and just hanging out.
18. Driving lessons
Ok so it’s not the easiest or cheapest activity to organise, but there’s 2 options. Young Driver lessons teach children from age 10-17 in proper cars and are great opportunities for children to get behind the wheel. It’s not cheap, in limited locations and do book up fast. But as a reward or special treat, or gift vouchers to save for holiday time, it’s something fun and helpful for older children. The alternative is if you know someone with some land and have an old car, children can quite easily be taught to drive around a field to learn basic controls and driving.
What other activities do your older children enjoy over the longer holidays?