It can be a struggle to know what to do with older children in the school holidays. They’re too young to be left to their own devices, but options can seem limited and so is their enthusiasm for them.
No hard and fast rules
There’s no legally stipulated age you can leave kids home alone. Children mature at different rates and it’s up to us as parents to make a judgement call on whether they’re safe and will be comfortable being left alone. With no ‘one size fits all’ rules, it’s difficult to know what the best thing is to do.
The NSPCC does advise that children under 12 years old are rarely mature enough to be able to cope in an emergency and so shouldn’t be left alone for long. They also advise that kids under 16 years shouldn’t be left alone overnight. Of course, they do point out that babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.
So, what can you do with older children in the long school holidays? As kids get older they crave more independence and autonomy. As they grow up they can be sensitive about being seen as babies and having to be ‘looked after’. Whilst we can see how far they’ve come, we also recognise they still have a way to go until they are ready to go it alone.
Here are some useful things to think about to help you decide if they can be left for some time on their own:
Is your child mature enough to manage without supervision? Do they listen to your instructions and understand and follow through on these?
What time of day and for how long would they be left on their own?
Have you got neighbours who you know and trust who would be around if needed?
Would they know who to call in an emergency?
Have they got all the phone numbers for trusted adults such as friends and relatives in the area as well as knowing how to call emergency services?
Do they know what they need to do in case of emergencies? For example, when to call a neighbour and when it’s necessary to call the emergency services?
If they had a minor accident, such as a small cut on their finger,would they be able to look after themselves?
Are they able to prepare food and drink for themselves?
Banishing the boredom
The other thing to consider, is not just keeping them safe but also making sure they’re entertained and active in the long school holidays.
Whilst they may like the idea of sitting on their screens for a whole day, we know that there is truth in the saying that you can have too much of a good thing! It can feel like a constant battle to drag them away from devices in their downtime. Whilst kids need a break in the holidays they also need variety and to be kept active.
Barracudas accepts kids on to camp up the age of 14 years old. We group children according to their ages so they can socialise with their peers and take part in activities that’ll keep them entertained. There’s a real sense for the older kids that they’re rising to the top of the pile which builds confidence and pride.
Our 11-14 year old groups have a blast at camp. Taking part in activities that keep them engaged as well as developing skills and finding new passions. Older kids have more independence at camp and build strong bonds with their peers which often end up in lasting friendships.
We also offer the BX+ course at no extra charge for 13-14 year olds, They can join in the fun activities on camp as well as experience a bit of what it’s like to be a staff member at Barracudas. They get to shadow the staff and help with the younger children at camp. Having the BX+ Tshirt and workbook also helps to make them really feel like part of the team.
Barracudas offers older kids a great option for the Easter holidays and summer holidays as well a limited number of half term camps. This is a great guilt-free childcare option for parents with older kids, offering for full days and weeks during the school holidays.