Update: If you’re looking for school holiday information for this year, check out our article on Canberra School Holidays 2020.
Whether you love them or hate them, if you have children there’s no avoiding them—school holidays. They come around four times a year and if you’re not prepared for them, you could be spending your ‘time off’ dealing with a pack of bored, restless or despondent kids.
But don’t despair. With a little planning and a few good ideas in your back pocket, you can easily turn school holidays from being a much-dreaded occasion, into a much-treasured one.
Whether you have littlies, tweens, teenagers or all the above, feel welcome to treat this as your Canberra school holiday survival guide, with all the information and ideas you need to make sure your kids are kept entertained and occupied throughout the 2019 school holidays.
Book in your leave
Most workplaces award leave on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, so the first step to a successful school holiday campaign is to get in early and book in your leave dates at work. Here are the dates to go for:
|ACT 2019 school terms and school holidays|
|Term 1||4 February – 12 April 2019|
|Term 2||29 April – 5 July 2019|
|Term 3||22 July – 27 September 2019|
|Term 4||14 October – 16 December 2019|
A little advance-planning goes a long way
One of the best ways to avoid mini-meltdowns throughout the holiday period is to plan a timetable of outings and activities that will keep them engaged and occupied in advance.
A good approach is to get them involved in developing the plan. Not only will they be able to suggest the things they really want to do, but they’re also less likely to be complaining of boredom during ‘at-home’ days because they’re agreed to the plan beforehand.
When it’s your turn to make some suggestions, our article on the best school holiday programs and activities Canberra has to offer might help. Otherwise, I’ve pulled together a few ideas which could be great crowd pleasers…
Ideas for the littlies (ages 5-7)
- Yarralumla Play Station (Yarralumla) – Always a winner with the littlies, most likely because everything is made to fit them perfectly. With a miniature railway, mini golf and a mini farm, it’ll make for a fun day out.
- Play centre/Café (Various locations) – This is a great one if you can rally some fellow parents or friends trying to survive the school holidays to come along. Enjoy a chat over a cup of coffee while the little ones run around to their hearts content. And the best bit is, you can almost guarantee they’ll sleep like an angel that night!
- Cockington Green Gardens (Nicholls) – With miniature steam train rides, a display of handcrafted miniature buildings and gorgeous landscaped gardens to run around, it’s the perfect place to visit whenever you get some nice weather.
Activities to keep ‘Tweens’ occupied (ages 8-12)
- Questacon (Parkes) – No matter how many times you visit Questacon, it never loses its appeal. Delivering science and technology in an interactive and fun way, not only will your tween be entertained, they may even learn a thing or two!
- National Zoo and Aquarium (Yarralumla) – Who doesn’t love animals? Simply wander around the enclosures, or if you want to do something extra special that they’ll remember forever, book in a Close Encounter or Zooventure Tour experience where they can get up close and personal with their favourite animal.
- Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre (Phillip) – Take a trip back to your own childhood by taking your tweens to the local ice rink to test their skating skills. Guaranteed to have you all falling on your backside in a fit of laughter!
Fun things for teenagers (ages 12-15)
- Escape Rooms (Various locations) – This is a great way to put their communication and problem solving skills to work in a fun and exciting race to escape. They can however be quite hard, so it’s definitely an activity where you’ll have to join in to help them to solve all the puzzles.
- Seg Glide Ride (Parkes) – This is a great idea for the whole family to get outdoors and soak in the atmosphere of beautiful Canberra. Just note, kids must be over 12 years of age so not something you can do if you have littlies in tow.
- iPlay (Belconnen) – Something for every teenager here – from laser tag and bowling, to dodgem cars and arcade machines – it’s sure to keep them entertained for hours!
School Holiday Programs
If all else fails or you can’t get enough time off work, an organised school holiday program could also be a great idea.
Here are a couple of the more unique school holiday programs on offer in Canberra in 2019 which may fit the bill:
- Belconnen Community Service’s (BCS) youth school holiday program is free for 12-25 year olds. Based at the Belconnen Youth Centre, the program’s skill-based activities and excursions reduce the social isolation and boredom that school holidays can bring for vulnerable young people. It’s a voluntary program that encourages social, emotional and skill development.
- Possum Patch holiday program at Pialligo Estate engages children in a holistic experience of fresh food production. It includes a farm tour in buggies, as well as the opportunity to learn about the cycle of planting, harvesting and using fresh produce in cooking. There is a different activity on each day of the school holidays, with each day suited to a different age group (i.e. 5-8 years, 9-13 years, 9-15 years). It costs $99 per day.
- Bricks for Kids host lego building workshops in Palmerston, Ainslie or Garran.
- Code Camp teaches children how to develop their own iPhone app in only a few days. Available at both Canberra Grammar School in Red Hill and UC High School in Kaleen.
- Belconnen Arts Centre conduct classes for kids throughout the school holidays where they can experiment with various mediums, techniques and materials.
- Communities@Work school holiday programs focus on fun. Communities@Work delivers high quality and value-for-money school holiday programs right across Canberra that encourage children to meet and make new friends, explore new experiences, and develop a lifelong love of learning. Programs offer a new adventure every day, with activities including themed days, art and craft activities, cooking, drama, sport, science, and excursions to Questacon, the latest movies, the circus, Big Splash and battle games.