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The end of December means, among other things, that it is time for the Christmas vacation. Most children will have a 10-12 day break -- not long enough for travelling, but long enough for you to rack your brains thinking of ways to keep them entertained.
With a little planning before hand, you can make this vacation more enjoyable for you and the kids.
Decorate your house
Decide on a piece of furniture -- a low table, an old cupboard or a pot, or even a wall which is to be painted. Use oil paints or oil crayons to make bright and beautiful pictures on it. Children can use their thumbs and palms too, to make patterns on it.
You can even stick brown paper on the wall. Hand over paints to kids, even as young as two years old (under supervision), and let them paint it. Later, you can use this paper to wrap gifts, make envelopes or paper bags.
Cook with your child and have his/ her friends over in the evening. Serve the food you've cooked with his/ her help. You can make sandwiches, cookies, parathas, bhel, etc, and some squash or milk shakes.
Make sure you let his/ her friends know your child has assisted you in fixing the delicious feast and you will have an willing assistant in kitchen whenever you need one!
Tee shirt paintings
Leena Mehendale, 32, and mother of Mughdha (5) and Snighdha (2), from Pune, gets some plain tee shirts for the entire family and lets the children paint them. "We usually have them ready for the New Year's party!" she says.
You can teach them to use lady's fingers, blocks of different sizes and shapes, etc, to make their own designs.
You don't have to travel far. Go sightseeing... in your city. There would be many museums, ancient temples, forts, zoos and parks. If possible, plan the outings with some of his/ her friends and their moms.
The good deed
Holidays are a good time to introduce kids to the need of a good deed -- be it cleaning the road, visiting an orphanage, reading to the blind, or any other activity that you can think of in your city.
It is also necessary to explain to the child that it is not a vacation activity but something that can be carried on during the entire year, whenever they have the time. Use this opportunity to sensitise your children.
Have story or bookreading sessions
Exchange some of his/ her books with their friends. One of the parents can take over and have some sessions with the kids. These could include practising some dance and drama too.
Mapping the world
Raghav John (33), a IT engineer in Delhi, introduced the India and World maps to his children. "You'd be surprised to know how much time they spend with it. Make sure the shape of the countries can be seen distinctly so as to make it easier for the preschoolers to identify the countries. Get him interested by pointing our where relatives and people he knows live -- so-and-so cousin lives in USA, so-and-so aunty lives here in Singapore, so on and so forth," he advises.
Since it's winter time, light a small fire after dinner or venture out for an after-dinner walk in search of stars. Better still, make it a father/ mother-and-child ritual. Besides being a great way of bonding, it will also give you a much needed break, says Suman Dubey, mother of three-and-a-half year old Nikita.
Efficient use television/ computer
Keeping in mind that you need to limit the time children spend watching television, a good option is to watch the children's favourite programmes with them, says Dr Deepa Bhise, mother of five-year-old Rohit, from Pune.
"I use television as a medium to teach," she says. She suggests that the parents should start television appreciation. Let the child watch her/ his favourite cartoon and then narrate the story or draw the pictures.
You can even ask the child to draw the entire programme, she adds.
Organise a Christmas party
What is a Christmas vacation without a Christmas party! Get the kids together, serve lots of goodies, put on some music and make sure Santa gets them some presents.
Get together to decorate a Christmas tree. You can also have a combined party for the kids in the building or vicinity, to add to the fun.
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