Lost for ideas on how you can make this school break a special one? Here are 3 ways!

#1. Pitch A Tent

camping

While our sunny little island doesn’t have mountains to speak of, there are places where Junior can get a taste of sleeping under the stars. Make it an extended family event, or get together a group of like-minded friends. The more the merrier certainly holds true when it comes to setting up tents and staying up to catch the sunrise!

If you know someone who is going camping, arrange to visit them at the campsite to see what it’s really like, or join these friends on their camping trip. The best way for a first-timer to go camping is to camp alongside more experienced campers.

camping trips
Photos courtesy of Pamela Tan

For Pamela Tan and her husband Matthew, taking their family of five camping has become a regular holiday affair since their first camping trip four years ago. Back then, their twins were just 3 years old.

“I like how we get to spend time together with the friends we go camping with, and those that come visit us. The kids get to spend lots of time playing with the other kids, either at the playground, or with a ball, or with card and board games, or even just by sitting and chatting with one another. Meanwhile the adults enjoy each other’s company too. No one is using any electronics, other than some of us parents taking pictures with our phones! That’s what I like best about our camping trips.”

– Pamela Tan

#2 Give Back

Real understanding and empathy for others best comes through first-hand experience in connecting with those in need and doing our part to help them. The holidays provide us with that much-needed break from school life, and the opportunity to instill important life values in our kids. One way we can do that is through encouraging our children to give back to society as a volunteer.

Parents Angeline and David Sim are always on the lookout for opportunities to instill in their children the sense of community spirit, empathy and compassion for the less privileged. On one occasion, David and their daughter, 9-year-ol daughter Dana, volunteered at Willing Hearts, a self-help non-profit organization that prepares meals for the needy and homeless.

“When we reached the venue, we were surprised that their large kitchen was already bustling with activity preparing for the next day’s meals. Dana was assigned to pack the Styrofoam boxes for the different neighbourhoods, while I helped to chop some raw vegetables. At the end of the session, we loaded the cooked meals into delivery cars, kind of like tingkat catering! Although I would have preferred for my daughter to personally deliver the food to the recipients, it was still a good volunteering experience for a start – doing what little she can to help with the mindset that a little can go a long way. We have since volunteered on other occasions, and hope to continue to do so as a family.”

– David Sim

Here are a few other local organisations where your children can lend a helping hand.

  • Soup Kitchen Project

Every Monday from 5:45 to 8:45pm, the team feeds up to 220 lower-income people at their kitchen in the Jalan Besar/Lavender area. All are welcome to help out, and all you’ll need to bring is a smile. Drop coordinator Tay Shi Ying a call at 98423287 for more details or to sign up as a volunteer.

  • Trash Hero

Kids can help to keep Singapore’s shorelines trash-free by signing up for a Trash Hero beach clean-up session! Gloves and garbage collection bags will be provided for all participants.

  • ACRES (Animal Concerns Research & Education Society)

For children who love animals, ACRES offers them the opportunity to follow their wildlife officers as they seek to rescue and care for the animals that come under their care. There are also opportunities to be part of their fundraising activities.
Note: There’s a minimum age requirement (14 years old) as some tasks involve cutting and carrying heavy equipment.

#3 Let Kids Take Charge

school holiday gateaway

Would you trust your kids to plan your family’s vacation? Giving older kids the responsibility of making major decisions is a great way of empowering them to make choices and teaching them the value of hard work, money and time.

Through discussions with each other and with the family, the process also helps different family members understand each other better and become more aware of what it means to consider each other’s needs and wants.

If your children are younger or not experienced in doing online research just yet, you can involve them actively in the planning process instead of delegating it to them. For instance, you could let them plan aspects of the itinerary by showing them the options of activities available.

Spunky mum of six Michelle Choy, let her older teenage daughters plan their family’s vacation to Krabi earlier this year. The girls were tasked with planning every aspect of the trip, from the accomodation, transport, food and itinerary, with Michelle only offering assistance in selecting suitable activities that everyone could enjoy. And they did a stellar job!

family's vacation
Photos courtesy of Michelle Choy

She gave them a budget to work with, and they did most of their research online and made the various bookings, learning along the way how much time goes into properly planning a trip.

There were a few obstacles along the way but Michelle shares how she saw all six children grow in independence and maturity through this trip. The older children also experienced what it was like managing and rationing out their money for the first time, and learnt to prioritise and bargain in the process.

“Yes, it took more effort guiding the kids to plan the trip instead of doing it myself. Yes, I had to be vigilant every step of the way, ensuring the safety of all six of them. Yes, I was exhausted by the end of the trip. But it was well worth it. We broke a glass in the hotel room, misplaced one room key and lost a charger, but I dare say the kids passed my little ‘challenge’ with flying colours and gained so much from this experience.”

– Michelle Choy

This was first published in The New Age Parents e-guide

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