Parents understandably worry about the negative effects of playing violent or mind-numbing games. But there are also plenty that test their critical thinking skills. Picture: AP

Winter school holidays are just days away and we bet your kids are just itching to have some down-time. And yes, they will probably want to sleep until midday and watch TV for the rest of it, but they probably also want (and need) to get out of the house and do things.

If you haven’t had the time to look up “fun things to do this holiday”, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

For days indoors

A study by the Pew Research Centre found that 97% of children aged 12 to 17 play video games. Parents understandably worry about the negative effects of playing violent or mind-numbing games. But there are also plenty that test their critical thinking skills. 

For instance, one called Civilisation lets players strategise, build, explore, conquer, and rule. It’s available on PC and Xbox and is appropriate for kids aged 10 years and up. The price comparison website, PriceCheck lets you see which retailers in the country stock it at the best price.

“A lot of people don’t realise the power of gaming when it comes to education,” says Glenn Gillis from Sea Monster, who’s created platforms, like Sea Monster’s Moneyversity, that employs gamification for businesses. “Some researchers have found that gaming improves communication skills, resourcefulness and adaptability.”

Just make sure that whatever they play is child appropriate

If the kids don’t enjoy video games, then maybe they’d enjoy doing their own version of MasterChef Junior (just keep an eye on smaller kids using kitchen appliances). You can be a little more at ease if you have items in your kitchen like an induction stove.

“Induction stoves are much safer than other stoves because radiation emitted by the burner is non-ionizing. You’d have to hold your hand directly over the burner for hours to be seriously hurt,” says Jazeign Kesari, Teljoy, the technical product boss at local retailer, Teljoy. But always keep an eye on them. Induction stove or not.


Your little people might groan at first if you drag them out of bed during the holidays, but if they get to explore new places and do new things they’ll thank you later. Whether you’re heading out for one day or more, the Western Cape has plenty to offer for a memorable time.

If the weather plays along, head off to Cape Point, which has a winter special for two kids (aged 6-16) to ride free on the Flying Dutchman Funicular, when you buy an adult return ticket for R70.

The nature reserve’s restaurant, Two Oceans, is also running a special where kids eat free with any main meal ordered.

Or trick your teens into thinking you’re a seriously cool parent by giving them an experience in which they – wait for it – use their smartphones to take professional pictures which will make them the envy of all their Instagram followers. They’ll get to learn from a professional – photojournalist Trevor Samson – who will take them around Kalk Bay haunts.

Or you can treat the little people to a few days away. There are numerous online booking services for holiday destinations and all the decent ones have all the filters you need to find your ideal listing. The most famous of these services is Airbnb which has 680 listings with a five-star family-friendly rating. That doesn’t mean it’s crazy expensive but rather that families who’ve stayed there have had a great stay.

Now you have no excuse but to spoil the kids with a good holiday!