Once upon a time a very wise person declared - "Failing to prepare means preparing to fail." Although I think the saying mainly refers to work deadlines, or perhaps exams, the same could also apply to school holidays. As the weeks draw closer to the final day of school term many parents experience feelings of excitement and anticipation mixed with something akin to dread - excitement, because we all love our children, but dread as we contemplate the challenges of constructively entertaining youngsters for two or more whole weeks, without totally breaking our budget.
Image courtesy of Barbara Hobbs / Wikimedia Commons
If we're adventurous, creative, and have some time on our hands, school holidays are a breeze. There are loads of great family activities that can be enjoyed together such as camping, hiking, picnics and visiting local parks. However, sometimes we may want to introduce our children to new activities and skills that broaden their horizons, but don't know where to begin. Fortunately here in Perth there are some incredible school holiday programs, some which are very unusual, for children of all ages. Ranging from creative courses for young artists to environmental education programs, challenging expeditions and tarot reading workshops, there is sure to be something that everyone will enjoy. To learn about some Perth's unique school holiday programs, please read on.
Fremantle Art Centre
Image courtesy of puer.aeternus / Wikimedia Commons
Fremantle Art Centre has long been a favourite with parents who want to introduce their children to a wider range of art than is generally available at the average primary school. With courses ranging from drawing and painting, to sculpture, mosaics, pottery, sewing, fashion design and much, much more, they are taught by professional artists with years of experience in their specific fields. Courses are also available periodically for older children so if you have creative teenagers at home this could be worth looking into as well. For more information, go to the Fremantle Art Centre website
Victoria Park Centre for the Arts
This small community arts centre is a hidden gem, holding regular exhibitions in its galleries and awesome creative classes for big and little people. Their school holidays program is absolutely wonderful and includes one-day classes in a wide variety of media including drawing, ceramics, woodwork, cartooning, print-making, nature art and up-cycling. Every holiday period new classes are offered so be sure to regularly check their website to see what's happening and to enrol your children. If your children enjoy themselves, perhaps they may also be interested in the Creative Kids Art Club, fun after-school classes held at the centre.
To learn more, go to the Victoria Park Centre for the Arts website
, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9470 5520.
Learn To Surf
One of Australia's most iconic images would have to be that of the bronzed, shaggy-haired surfer, and the dream of the perfect wave is one shared by surf enthusiasts, old and young, all around the country. If one of your children is a wannabe surfer, perhaps he or she would enjoy some of these school holiday classes.
Image courtesy of Zoipes / Wikimedia Commons
The Big Wave Surfing School at Secret Harbour is a great spot for youngsters of all ages to learn the basics of surfing, and they hold regular weekend and school holiday classes for various age groups during the warmer months of the year. Also conducted by Big Wave is the popular Vegemite Surf Groms program, which teaches children, aged five to twelve, surfing techniques, safety skills and much more in several levels of classes, held over four days. Take a look at the Big Wave Surfing School website
or give them a call on 08 9758 8315 to find out more details.
Other places in Perth that deliver the Surf Groms program include Surfing Western Australia
at Triggs Beach and Go Surf
at Scarborough. To learn more about Surf Groms' awesome school holiday programs, take a look at their website
If your children have ever told you they want to run off and join the circus, one of these awesome school holiday workshops may be just up their alley. Circus skills include tumbling, juggling, acrobatic balance, unicycle, stilts and much more, and apart from being loads of fun also help children to improve balance, coordination and self-confidence. Courses are usually divided into age groupings to suit children's various developmental levels, and begin with fun classes for preschoolers right up to workshops for teenagers and adults.
If you think that your children would enjoy learning circus skills during the next school holidays, Circus WA in Fremantle is a good spot to head for. Visit their website
to learn more. Alternatively, take a look at this article
to find out what else is going on in Perth's Circus scene.
If you're looking for another range of absolutely awesome school holidays activities for your children, then Perth Zoo is always worth checking out. Ideal for young animal-lovers and budding zoologists, Perth Zoo lays on a terrific range of free activities every holiday, including walks, talks and fascinating presentations.
In addition to these free events, the Zoo's Close Encounters experiences are always popular with youngsters, giving them a rare behind-the-scenes view of specific animals. However, please note – these activities do incur a charge, and are only open for specific age groups. To find out more about Close Encounters, go to this webpage
or email the Zoo at email@example.com.
Image courtesy of the Perth Zoo website
Possibly the most popular of Perth Zoo's school holiday programs is Zoo Crew, a wonderful educational adventure for children aged from eight to thirteen years. Within the program, there are several wonderful options for children to choose from. In Talk To The Animals children will learn how keepers communicate with the animals, and also how the animals interact with each other, while in the Junior Keeper program, kids help the keepers with some of their daily chores including preparing animals' meals and cleaning exhibits. Finally, in Saving Wildlife children will learn about preserving our endemic fauna, assist with special tasks and get a glimpse behind-the-scenes. To learn more about this exciting and unusual school holiday program, check out this webpage
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, teenagers aren't neglected at Perth Zoo, and for those aged fourteen to eighteen there's the Wild Vet program, during which they'll spend an entire day with one of the experienced zoo and wildlife vets based there, assisting with a range of activities focusing on animal health care. To learn more, take a look at this webpage
Ark of Joan
Image courtesy of the Perth Zoo website
If your children are bored with craft, dance lessons and sport and want to try something totally different, these courses may be something that they'll find interesting. Situated in a cosy nook of South Terrace Piazza in down-town Fremantle, the Ark of Joan is a lovely New Age shop that purveys anything and everything that the metaphysical seeker could desire. As well as all these goodies, it also offers a wonderful range of classes for both adults and children, with their original and eclectic school holiday program including classes in the magical arts, candle making, magical crystal wand making, an introduction to oracle cards, jewellery making and raw sweet preparation. Each class lasts two hours.
To learn more about Ark of Joan and their school holiday classes, visit this website
or give them a call on 08 9430 6646 during business hours.
Western Australian Museum
With campuses in the metro area (one at Perth Cultural Centre and two in Fremantle) and regional Western Australia (Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Albany), the Western Australian Museum is one of Perth's favourite destinations for high-quality school holiday fun.
Image courtesy of the Western Australian Museum website
The programs held at each museum vary every holiday, but are generally related to Western Australian wildlife, the environment, Indigenous culture, or one of the current exhibitions. They often involve a special child-friendly presentation, fun games and cool creative activities. Most are free of charge, although some craft activities incur a small charge to cover the cost of materials. To find out more, go to the Western Australian Museum website
Scitech is all about introducing kids of all ages to the wonderful world of science, and is therefore a popular family and school excursion destination at any time of the year. Whether your children are science geeks or not, they're sure to enjoy the cool and creative range of children's activities that are held there each school holidays.
Image courtesy of SeanMack / Wikimedia Commons
The holiday programs that are held at Scitech are suitable for children from four to fourteen years of age and take place in the cool CSIRO Lab. Due to the vast developmental differences within this age range, the workshops are focused on relatively narrow age groupings, so as to be relevant to all the children who are taking part. Different workshops are held every school holidays but some of the most popular ones the years have been Amazing Magnets, Catapult Engineers, Fizzy Chemistry, Squishy Circuits and Edison Robotics. Awesome indeed, and guaranteed to unveil the innate scientist within even the most apathetic science student.
Check out the Scitech website
for more information about these and other programs for children, call 9215 0740 or email email@example.com.
If you're the parent of an adventurous and nature-loving teenager, the programs run by Outward Bound may provide the challenge that he or she is craving for. Outward Bound is a not-for-profit educational organisation dedicated to helping people discover and achieve their full potential by participating in expeditions to some of Australia's most remote wilderness areas.
Image courtesy of Hughesdarren / Wikimedia Commons
As well as holding expeditions for adults, several of their programs have been created for teens, including the popular twelve-day Navigator program and seven-day Family Expedition, aimed at youngsters aged thirteen to sixteen, accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. In both of these programs participants venture into some of the country's most pristine wilderness regions, challenging themselves on every level and working cooperatively with the other expedition members.
To find out more, take a look at the Outward Bound website
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
These wonderful creative workshops enable children to learn all about the age-old tradition of puppet-making, giving them the opportunity to make their own puppet, guided by the experts at the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Based on the age of the participants, there are two options – a one-day workshop for tiny-tots aged from four to six, and a two-day program for seven to twelve year-olds which teaches children all about the art of puppet performance as well as giving them the chance to craft their own. Included in the cost of the workshops is admission to watch the Theatre's current production, and the opportunity to speak to the cast and crew afterwards. If you're looking for a school holiday activity that is fun, educational and genuinely unique, this may be the answer to your prayers.
Image courtesy of Dr Bernd Gross / Wikimedia Commons
Take a look at the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre website
for more information and to make bookings, or call them on 08 9335 5044.
West Australian Ballet
For generations of little girls and boys, ballet classes have been a first introduction to the magical world of dance and performance, and therefore it's hardly surprising that one of Perth's most popular school holiday programs is held at the West Australian Ballet Centre in Maylands. These workshops are taught by professional dancers and give youngsters the rare opportunity to peek inside the home base of our state ballet company. If they're lucky they may even see some of our local stars rehearsing in the studios.
Image courtesy of Sander van der Wel from the Netherlands / Wikimedia Commons
Classes are divided into four age groupings (4 - 6, 7 – 9, 10 – 12, and 13 - 15), with a requirement that participants aged ten years or older have had at least one year of ballet experience. Depending on the age of the students, classes range from one to two hours.
The West Australian Ballet Centre is situated at 134 Whatley Crescent in Maylands. To learn more, visit the West Australian Ballet website
, or phone the centre on 08 9214 0707.
Nearer To Nature
An incentive of Western Australian Parks and Wildlife, each year Nearer to Nature holds some of Perth's most exciting nature-based activities. With a huge range of fun things to see and do for people of all ages, Nearer to Nature's most popular programs are those held during the school holidays and include special guided nature walks, Noongar cultural presentations, caving, canoeing, bush cooking, creative fun and much, much more. These are held at several locations around the Perth metro area including the Perth Hills Centre, Yanchep National Park, Woodman Point, Star Swamp and the Canning River Eco Education Centre.
Image courtesy of LWelling / Wikimedia Commons
For more information, take a look at the Nearer to Nature website
, or give them a call on 08 9295 2244. Bookings are essential for all activities. To avoid disappointment I strongly recommend that you get in early – this program is extremely popular and many activities are booked out well ahead of the holidays.