The school holidays will be starting soon. Here are some family-friendly ideas to give your children or teens an enjoyable and memorable experience!
1. International travel
Travelling abroad is the classic choice for the year end. The experience of travelling in new countries your child has yet to experience can help broaden their horizons, thus enlightening them on different cultures and ways of life. Besides that, they get to enjoy new sights, interesting people and unique food experiences they normally wouldn’t have in their everyday life. Places like museums and historical sites are excellent options to consider if you’re looking for an educational experience.
Depending on the country you visit, experience travelling in a different season unlike Malaysia’s tropical climate! At the same time, spending your Christmas in a foreign country offers a unique and novel experience as certain countries have their own distinct Christmas traditions and customs. For instance, San Fernando – the Christmas Capital of the Philippines – is known for their colourful and vibrant star-shaped parol lanterns during the Giant Lantern Festival. Alternatively, if you’re ever in Sweden, do cheque out the world’s largest straw goat, the Gävle Goat, which stands at 13 metres high and seven metres long!
However, due to the pandemic, there may be international travel restrictions for your destination country as certain countries may require you to test for COVID-19 prior to your departure and upon arrival, and/or undergo quarantine in a hotel. As of 2 December 2021, Malaysians are prohibited from travelling to high-risk countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.
For more information, please refer to https://www.imi.gov.my/
2. Domestic travel
Another option to consider is domestic travel. While not as adventurous as travelling abroad, you may still enjoy a fun holiday as a family. You and your children can sunbathe on the beaches, snorkel among fishes and savour fresh seafood caught locally along the West Coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Since they are not affected by the monsoon, places like Penang, Langkawi or Pangkor Island are the perfect destinations for a weekend getaway. Alternatively, if you’re up for a new sporty challenge, you can consider travelling to the East Coast and pick up surfing as a new interest. Popular surfing spots include Cherating (Pahang), Pantai Juara (Pulau Tioman), and Pantai Batu Burok (Terengganu). Do check weather conditions before travelling to the East Coast.
Alternatively, a more affordable and convenient choice is visiting local attractions. For instance, those living in Kuala Lumpur can visit places like Sunway Lagoon Theme Park or Aquaria KLCC over the weekend. If you’re unsure about where to go, websites such as KKday and Klook provide great ideas on local tourist spots. They also offer discounted prices on entrance tickets!
3. Learn skills
Besides travel, school holidays are a fantastic time to pick up new skills. The internet offers a wide variety of DIY kits geared towards different interests; they range from arts and craft, science, baking to robotics, among others. If your children are interested in handicrafts, they can craft cute plushies with crocheting or needlework. Alternatively, they can paint gorgeous sceneries in watercolour or acrylic. For those keen on biology, they can observe the growth of mushrooms with a mushroom growing kit. Upon harvest, your whole family (including your neighbours if you have a bumper crop!) can enjoy the fruits of your labours. With beginner-friendly DIY kits, your child can even assemble and code a smart car to run on the floor!
The options to learn new skills are limitless! These kits are simple, yet educational as they provide hands-on learning for your child, while discouraging the excessive use of technology during the school break. In addition, this is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child whilst learning a new skill!
4. Workshops and holiday camps
If your child would like to delve deeper into their interests after having experimented with the DIY kits, then consider enrolling your child in workshops. They cater to many interests, including sports and outdoor activities, cooking, art, music, and drama, among others. With the structured programmes and helpful guidance offered by the facilitators, workshops are useful for mastering more advanced skills. What’s more, they also serve as a great introduction for the uninitiated. Unlike with DIY kits which are usually done solo, they can rely on the facilitators for whatever difficulties encountered during the learning process.
Similarly, holiday camps are another alterative. Compared to workshops which are usually confined to a few hours, holiday camps occur over a few days and cover more areas of knowledge. Your child would enjoy a slew of activities geared towards character building and skill development. Moreover, both workshops and holiday camps are usually conducted in groups. Hence, they are a great opportunity for your child to socialise and make new friends! Therefore, they encourage your child to explore their interests and hobbies in a conducive and fun environment, alongside their friends. Do note that some of these activities have moved online because of COVID-19 restrictions. Please check that proper care is observed to ensure your child is safe at all times.
5. Short-term exchange programmes (STEP) and homestays
For parents with teenagers, short-term exchange programmes (STEP) and homestays are another option for the adventurous and daring! Experience a life in a different country and enjoy the unique culture and people there, whilst living with a local host family! Depending on the organisation you apply to, they offer many different countries. For instance, AFS Intercultural Programmes offer 11 destinations, including Argentina, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, among others in their Short Study Abroad Programmes which last for 3-4 weeks.
Participating in such programmes takes your child away from his comfort zone, while exposing them to extensive intercultural opportunities. As a result, they learn to be more aware of global issues and trends which contribute towards their future education and employability. Besides that, living in a foreign country guarantees a total language immersion, allowing your child to speedily learn a new foreign language in order to adapt and communicate with the local people. Apart from that, they also gain self-confidence from the experience and learn to develop soft skills such as communication, adaptability and interpersonal skills. Last but not least, living with a host family and/or attending classes on a daily basis creates opportunities for your child to make new friends. The bonds and memories they create will surely last for a lifetime!
However, take note of the deadlines for the application submission as certain organisations may require you to apply several months in advance.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, there are still many ways for your children and teens to enjoy their year-end school holidays. This is also an opportunity for you to create memories and strengthen family bonds!