"I don't know what to do. I'm bored." The inevitable consequence of a school holiday, perhaps, but for a parent this refrain is almost the kiss of death.

For working parents, who have to prise unwilling children out of bed when they are in holiday mood, whinges like this are a prompt to near hysteria. Yes, we all remember being a child, but thank heavens for holiday playschemes, say those in the know.

You've not heard of them? As the name implies, these are supervised play activities, mainly for primary-age children, and you'll be relieved to know that it's a growth area. They offer wide-ranging activities, supervised by experienced playworkers, all checked by the police.

And the playworkers are a rich and heterogeneous mix, made up of parents, students and volunteers, many of whom used to attend playschemes themselves.

About half have playwork qualifications and the number is rising.

In terms of supervision, you might be surprised to know that the adult-child ratio is higher than at school. In the case of under-eights (who account for the majority at playschemes), there must be one adult for eight children. And all playschemes that offer more than two hours' play a week must also register with social services.

Perhaps the biggest question for parents, particularly working parents who often feel the guilt that goes with the job, is how can you be sure you are making the right choice? Well they are all safe environments or as safe as one can reasonably make them.

Where registered, all staff are vetted by the police and a number of playschemes have met quality standards set by Kids Clubs'Network and NOOSI, both of which have been approved by East Sussex Early Years Development & Childcare Partnership.

These initiatives are probably beyond the budget of, say, a highly regarded voluntary-status playscheme. So don't pre-judge.

The best way forward for a parent is to go by recommendation. Ask other parents or go with your child on the first day so you can take a look.

Call Kites (telephone number below)for full details of playschemes in Sussex.