At a multicultural Christmas Carols event in Logan, Gurbir Singh Chhabra and Serbjeet Kaur are enjoying the festive atmosphere with their grandchildren. It’s a family activity they especially look forward to every summer.
“25 December there’s Christmas ceremonies – they’re good!”
For their older grandchildren, Gurbir and Serbjeet enjoy simply spending time together.
“They’re talking with us and playing with us. We go for a walk together.”
As for Rochedale resident Debbie Kucks, apart from the usual bike rides, swim in the pool and day trips to the beach, she’s already planned specific craft activities for her four and six year-old granddaughters.
“We’re doing paper maché, which is the newspaper and glue. We’re going to make our own little survival kit of bowls and plates and cups and that takes a while to do; so every day, they come back and put another layer on and at the end we paint them. They’ll play with that like a tea set in the end.”
If you’re after educational activities, look no further than your local library.
Thom Browning is the Program Officer for Young People and Families at the State Library of Queensland. He says libraries across Australia often have engaging programmes to improve literacy in children of all ages.
“Like for instance, here in Queensland at the moment, we’ve got the First 5 Forever literacy programme, which is really about providing opportunities for young children and their families to come in and play, sing, read, and have those kinds of enriching experiences that are A, really fun for everyone, and enjoyable for everyone, but also kind of deliver those early literacy outcomes, which are really important.”
There are more than 1600 public libraries nationwide, but you don’t actually need to be in a library to engage your grandchildren in literacy programs. After all, everything is online these days.
“Every year, over the summer, public libraries all across Australia run a programme called the Summer Reading Club, and that's a programme that's online and it’s designed to try and keep children engaged in reading over those summer months when they’re not at school. There is a known phenomenon called the “summer slide”, where children’s learning can drop off in those months in between school, and of course, it’s important for them to have their own time and be playing, but it’s a good opportunity to reinforce that love of reading and make some time to continue that.”
In Sydney, the Australian Museum has programmes for kids aged from nine months onwards. Cordelia Hough, the Creative Producer of Children’s Programs, says the most exciting programme this summer involves a gigantic prehistoric creature.
“During summer, we have mammoth giants of the Ice Age on, which is a family exhibition featuring a 42,000 year old baby mammoth Lyuba, who’s perfectly preserved, and it's the first time she’s come to the Southern Hemisphere. We’ve got a science show where a presenter tries to send earth into another Ice Age using liquid nitrogen. We get families sleeping over at the museum, and we’ll also go on a torch light tour.”
She recommends taking your little ones to the botanic gardens if you like to go out and about.
“The Botanic Gardens runs a lot of activities that grandparents and children will enjoy and it’s nice to actually get outside learning about nature in context in nature.”
As for Debbie Kucks, she immerses her grandchildren in nature by involving them in her garden.
“We have a vegetable garden, which they love to do and to eat from, and this year, we’re putting a lot of flowers in the front, and I have a heap of weddings, so I’ll be really really happy to see them come and help me with that. They love to ride around and climb rocks and things while we’re doing it. So we even take our cups of tea and our morning tea out and make it like it’s a big deal and they don’t know any difference and they really enjoy it.”
She suggests jotting down the wonderful memories you create together to leave a lasting impression.
“So before bed, we talk about how good the day was and what we can write down to remember. It can be as simple as I really appreciated that fantastic ice cream we had today, it was really yummy; or it could be something about each other: I appreciate how my sister helped me when I fell down or something like that; and when they go back and read these things it really helps cement the family together.”