Published on June 26, 2024

School holidays can elicit mixed feelings for children. The busyness of HVGS life, with all its structure, routines, lessons, training and rehearsals suddenly disappears. Some children revel in their freedom! For others, hours of unstructured time can be daunting.

Before long, your child will cry, “I’m bored!

It can be tempting to solve the problem with technological entertainment, planned activities or individual attention. Our advice this holiday is to… take a step back.

Unstructured time, without adult input, is the birthplace of creativity. In these moments of frustration, your child can learn to imagine, invent, explore, solve problems and make decisions. Your child may discover passions and pursue personal interests. Unstructured time offers opportunities to build independence, resilience, time management, curiosity and appreciation for the world around them.


Consider supporting your children’s brain development this holiday in the following ways:


  • Build something!

Empty your recycling bin, gather Lego and let the engineering begin! Click here for STEM challenges with Lego. As you marvel at you children’s creations, avoid showering them with praise. Instead, start a dialogue by asking questions such as, “How did you design it?” “How did you make it strong?” “What patterns did you create?” “Why did you include this feature?”


  • Create something!

The possibilities are endless: drawings, paintings, sculptures, meals, snacks, obstacle courses, puppet shows or short films. Whichever media they choose, encourage them to follow instructions, and also, to experiment freely. Encourage your child to make mistakes, start over, abandon some projects, and persist with others for days on end, like real artists do.



  • Hunt for something!

A magnifying glass, a plastic container and a search engine ensure hours of learning. When your children enter the house with pockets full of creepy crawlies, resist the urge to throw them in the bath. Instead, launch their careers as entomologists, by encouraging them to draw, name, classify and research the insects in our midst. Insect Factsheets from the Australian Museum are a great resource.


  • Read something!

Every day. If your child is a reluctant reader, don’t make it optional. As a family, start with the film version of a popular book, then commit to reading the book together. Read a chapter, at the same time each day when nobody is tired. Set up a comfy chair and make this time special. Read to your child. Ask your child to read aloud to you. Read silently in the same room. Just read! For recommendations and online reading resources, please contact our Library Team.


  • Unplug something!

More than ever, this holiday should be a time when screens are turned off, and your child is engaged in high-intensity, physical exercise. Bike riding, running, jumping, climbing and hanging are all important for balance, strength, growth and wellbeing. If you find that your child’s sleep routines are disrupted during the holidays, the quickest solution is to increase activity levels during the day. Save screen time for late afternoons and always have a timer and a negotiated limit.


HVGS teachers will be ready to educate your children in Term 3. We will spend time this holiday planning lessons and creating rich resources, ready for another exciting term.

Over the next few weeks, please take the pressure off your child. Please feel confident that you are supporting your child’s cognitive development by leaving unstructured time in the day.

If you hear, “I’m bored!”, you can rest assured that your parenting is on point, and creativity will ensue.


Ms Shannon O’Dwyer

Ms Shannon O’Dwyer

Shannon O'Dwyer is the Deputy Principal – Head of Junior School at Hunter Valley Grammar School. Shannon brings a deep commitment to building effective transitions across school sections, and maintaining high expectations while building a restorative culture and nurturing young people to become the young adults we know they can be.