Vacation is the time for children to hang up their boots and chill, undo the damage of the pressures that egged them all through the previous academic year. Parents usually find some way to keep them productively engaged. While some enrol their kids for summer camps, others send off their young ones to meet their cousins or friends. But there are those who have nowhere to send their kids, who, in turn, are forced to spend idle hours at home. In such cases some parents are at a loss of activities to keep their lil’uns engaged, while others are known to make a list of multiple activities for their kids, which may put the most diligent multi-tasker to shame. Read insights from experts on the activities you may consider for your kids, so that summer vacations for them are about wholesome fun and entertainment and not about following the ‘herd’.
SHAPING THEIR PERSONALITY
Even as you seek options to engage your childrento make the best use of vacation, with a healthy mix of fun and learning, ensure you give them the freedom to enjoy the magical days of the vacation. Experts across the country have diverse views on this subject. Vikram Thakur, director and co-founder of The Aarambh School, Raipur, believes that parents should ensure that children utilise their holidays constructively and not just passively watching TV or playing games online all day. “Children should try to make the best out of their summer break and learn some activities,” he suggests. “That might help them explore their areas of interests.” Swati Salunkhe, managing director, The Growth Centre, a Mumbai-based counselling firm, believes that though kids love to learn newer things, vacations for them are just about being with other kids of their age. “About 90 per cent of the kids love to enjoy their vacations sleeping and hanging around with friends,” she reiterates. “So while it is great to explore hobbies and activities, it is also important to see where the child’s interest and happiness lie. Just because a friend or another child in the family is getting enrolled in something, it shouldn’t tempt you into getting your child to do it too, all for the sake of competitiveness. So while it’s good if your child is open to doing some activity, it’s perfectly fine if he wants to be at home and spend time doing household chores.”
LACK OF TIME WITH PARENTS
True to the experts’ word, some parents do tend to stretch the ‘keep busy’ tag a little too far. Dr Reshma Shriyan has enrolled her 5½-year-old Eshaan for a speech, drama and dance workshop. Once that gets over, she plans to take the child for a short trip to his favourite hill station, where she hopes he will also meet up some school friends who recently shifted there. Back home, he intends to spend time going out for movies and picnics with his cousins. Dr Shriyan is just one among the many parents who believe that sending their kids to hobby classes will give them an upper hand in extra-curricular activities at school. “What they should understand, instead, is that academics are not the only goal in a child’s scholastic race,” points out Paresh Sindhvad, who is a schoolteacher and father of two. “And then there are those who happily send their kids to hobby classes, with the sole reason that kids will stay away from home and leave them with some relaxing time. As a parent, you need to assess the situation and strike the right balance.”
‘Me time’ is the best way for a child to spend his vacations. And for working parents, though summer camps are a good option, ensure those camps include activities that help in the children’s mental, physical, emotional and psychological development while keeping the youngsters engaged throughout the time. As the level of curiosity and imagination is very high in children, the sky is the limit for what they would have assimilated from such experiences. “Children follow a very structured plan throughout the academic year. Hence, during vacations, they should get enough free time to think of all the beautiful things about life and nature. They should also get the time to reflect on what they have learnt in life and ponder upon where they went wrong. While doing this, they are indeed learning the most,” concludes Vikram.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR KIDS HEALTHILY ENGAGED
• Enrol them in a creative-arts class like painting, sketching, pottery, clay art, bamboo art
• Get them to construct a bird feeder
• Set up an exercise routine or take them to learn an outdoor sport like swimming, badminton, football or riding a bicycle
• Encourage them to learn some dance form, adventure sport or musical instrument
• Devote a small patch in the garden to let your kids plant flowers or herbs; it will give them the satisfaction of having produced something
• Make time to travel and explore new places; the travel experience will give your kids a chance to get familiar with varied cultures, languages and locations
• Spend time with kids doing short trips like visiting a nature park, zoo, beach or the museum
• Take your child along for social visits to your relatives’ place or even to a neighbour’s house, so they learn the art of socializing
• Encourage your kids to maintain a summer diary or memory book where they can stick pictures of special events or places and write about them
• Motivate them to read; it is a hobby that, if picked up, can keep a student’s mind sharp even during a break from structured educational activities
• Make sure your kids are introduced to the basic chores at home, say, watering the plants, cleaning up the room or their wardrobe, laying the table, making tea or coffee, etc.