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All For One and One For All – Spending Quality Time as a Family

05 december 2014

The idea of a three week holiday from school is one that is met by a full range of reactions from different children and their families.

I am sure that many parents and students are happy to have a break from the early mornings and routine demands of school life. However, no school or ECAs also means that there are three full weeks where families have to keep their children entertained and engaged, from morning to night, which as we know can sometimes be challenging (not to mention exhausting!)

On the positive side, rather than having to find those small slivers of time during busy work and school schedules to really be together, this is a great great opportunity for us all to take full advantage of this holiday to spend quality time with our children. This is not about being busy and ensuring children have an action packed schedule of stimulating activities, but much more about really spending quality time as a family. It's actually very simple: quality time is just being with your children and being fully present in the moment. That's it.

It means turning off the phone / computer / iPad when you read with your children, or getting them to turn off their devices when you are talking or eating together as a family. It means going on a walk and really listening to what each family member is saying. It is about spending time in everyday family leisure activities most of which are home-based and low cost; playing board games, playing football or basketball or building a Lego land with your child, watching them perform a talent show or ballet routine, making cakes or cooking dinner together, sharing a craft project, watching a family movie together or simply sitting round the dinner table talking and telling stories and chatting. Whatever the activity or setting, it means engaging in meaningful conversations with your children so they know their thoughts, feelings and concerns are being heard - so they know that you, the parent, are the one they can trust to share their day's triumphs and tribulations.  It is also about stepping back and allowing the children opportunities to determine what this quality time should involve, based on the child’s interests at that moment, rather than the things we as adults think would be good for them or we are interested in.

For many of our families this three week break also allows them to travel back to their home countries and again this is a wonderful opportunity for children to spend quality time with extended family. What a great chance to really talk to grandparents and find out more about what their lives were like when they were young or to play games with cousins and compare what life is like at home with their lives here in China. It is about keeping things simple to ensure we make time for this quality social interaction and trying to prioritise these special moments with and for our children.

So, whatever you have planned over the holiday period, remember to stop and enjoy these magic moments with your children. They do grow up quickly and so we have to provide and share in these quality family experiences when and how we can. And remember, it is the quality of the time spent actively engaging with children that counts, not the quantity. Enjoy this busy last week of school and then have a fabulous winter break with your family, whatever you are doing and wherever you are going.

- Niki Meehan, Head of Primary

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