Quizzing: Conduct a short quiz on a book the child has read recently—this means that you will have to read the book too! Better yet, seize the opportunity to bond with your child by reading it together. As the child grows older, ask them to set a quiz for you—this is generally a great hit as children love the opportunity to turn the tables on us and come up with difficult questions to catch us out.
Dictionary skills: If the child takes to reading, there will be scores of new words that they come across. Introduce the concept of looking up words in the dictionary—you will meet with some resistance here as the easiest way out is to ask an adult. Make a pact with your child—tell them that they should look up three new words daily and you would help them with the rest.
Building: I bought a DIY craft book, which explained how to build paper models of cars and planes, dreaming of spending hot afternoons creating the beautiful models shown in the book. This was not much of a success because neither of us had nimble fingers and the whole thing was more complicated than it looked. But we did have a lot of fun comparing what we had made with a picture of the real thing in the book! However, the Mechanix set was a big hit and my son spent many a pleasant afternoon building cars, bikes and planes and displaying them in our showcase. His goal was to have a different model on display every evening by the time his dad returned from work.
Movies: Watch your old favourites with your child—watching an old favourite through your child’s eyes may give you a fresh perspective and even help you discover that you share the same tastes. My son and I watched The Sound of Music, Golmaal (the old one with Utpal Dutt and Amol Palekar), Parichay (the Bollywood version of Sound of Music), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (the V Santaram movie on rehabilitating criminals), and Angoor (based on The Comedy of Errors) during his grade six holidays. We also watched For a Few Dollars More, Party, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Home Alone and many more over the years. I even introduced my son to the Doordarshan comedy show, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, which he enjoyed, much to my surprise!
Picnics: Arrange picnics to places of interest in the vicinity with other families with young children. Planning, shopping and preparing for the trip can be great fun besides being a learning experience, and creates several fond memories. Look for places to visit within your town—may be a museum or a park or any other place that your child is interested in.