Welcome to the August child care blog.
Those of you working in holiday clubs this summer may be faced with children from a very broad age range. Naturally, all practitioners hope children will have a fantastic time over the summer. But while some children attend a holiday club just for fun, it’s true that many have no option, as their parents or carers are working.
Luckily, there’s plenty practitioners can do to promote a sense of membership to their club. This helps children to feel that they belong, in the same way that they belong to their families, and this helps them to avoid feeling that the club is simply a place they have to be when their parents can’t be with them.
Using positive language when booking children in can be a great help. You can refer to them “joining the club” rather than just coming along. Giving out a membership pack to mark the occasion also works well. For example, you might give new members a membership card, club badge or stickers featuring your logo. At my club, we used to hire a badge machine from time to time, and make a batch of badges ready for new members with the existing children. This had the added advantage of reinforcing the importance of children welcoming new members into the club and becoming their friend.
Club logos or symbols can help clubs to establish an identity, so if you haven’t already got one at your setting, why not work with the children to create a design? If you do have one, consider involving the group in updating it in some way, perhaps by changing the colours or choosing a different font for the club’s name. You could also ask children to help come up with a statement that sums up the club for them, which could be used as a strap line, e.g. “A fun place to play,” or “Where you make new friends.” Once you have a logo and strap line, turn your attention to ways to display them. How about making a club flag with fabric paints, or painting a banner for the wall? You might even think about club T-shirts or baseball caps for children to wear. Or, older children might enjoy making bracelets in the club’s colours – particularly in light of the current loom band craze. (Do follow the safety guidelines carefully).
Creating a club song to sing or chant together is also an ideal activity, and you don’t need musical talent to get stuck in! Children enjoy changing the lyrics to a song or rhyme they all know. Something like, “In My Liverpool Home,” can become “In Our Out of School Club.” Or perhaps they’ll be inspired by the latest chart topper. Singing about popular aspects of the club is motivational (and especially good fun when travelling on a trip out!).
If you’re looking for activity ideas for a mixed age group, check out my book A Practical Guide to Activities for Older Children, which focuses on themed activities for the 4-12 age range. You may also be interested in A Practical Guide to Playwork.
I’ll be back next month, and in the meantime, enjoy those summer trips!