It's May, the weather is getting warmer, the children have started talking about the end of the school year and it's time to start planning for the long summer holidays. Enjoying leisure activities, exploring the natural environment or learning a new creative skill are just some of the many creative options available for parents wondering how to entertain their youngsters for so many weeks.
When choosing activities it is important to take several things into account: children need variety, they can benefit from the company of other children and from their environment and of course, it's essential to find quality time to spend with the family.
Summer camps are often the best option for children during the school holidays. The youngsters will have fun, learn and make new friends, and working parents are able to solve the problem of having shorter holidays than their children. A summer camp means that childcare is not left entirely to grandparents and other relatives.
Currently there is an enormous variety of summer camps which cater for a wide range of taste and interests for families.
Classic choices, offering activities such as sports, music and languages have recently been joined by new ideas such as creative camps or specialised science and technology courses.
All of this is usually punctuated by outings and excursions, workshops and even visits from well-known faces, especially on themed camps.
Parents can choose the amount of time and the type of activities that they want their children to undertake, which can be in day camps, normally in the same town or city, or a full stay, especially when the activity takes place further from home. Overseas trips are also an option where language-learning combines with fun activities.
Besides spending time enjoying themselves, the camps offer important benefits to children: they learn to fend for themselves; understand the importance of work and team collaboration; learn to live with other children; and perform fun and varied activities to expand their horizons of knowledge and experiences.
For those who do not want to go far from home many town halls offer municipal summer schools in educational centres with normal school hours, plus an extra early morning care service and lunch on the premises.
When it comes to fun with the whole family, waterparks are a fantastic option for a day out with family and friends. In Malaga province there are three different parks: Aqualand, in Torremolinos; Aquamijas, in Fuengirola; and Aquavelis, in Torre del Mar.
Across the border into the province of Granada is Aquatropic, in Almuñécar ,the only salt water aquatic park on the Andalusian coast. The park is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has planned a wide range of activities.
Beach trips are an obvious choice for families who live on or near the coast, but some are more suitable for children than others. Adventure playgrounds on the sand are common and inflatable adventure parks on the water are available in several Costa del Sol resorts.
Exploring nature is always a good option for the summer and a special trip into the countryside might include horseriding or a thrilling day out at a treetop climbing adventure park.