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Finding Summer Programs for your Child!

May 9, 2011

Finding Summer Programs for your Child!



Summer vacation is almost here. For the next one month, there will be frenetic activity in the schools. As the March month inches to a close, there is visible excitement in the air. Examinations would have been over by then. While some parents will take off for a vacation, others who can’t afford the vacations due to their busy schedules will have to explore some way of keeping their children productively engaged in an activity other than watching Television.

Summer Camps

As a young boy in the early 1970’s I did not have the wherewithal to attend summer camps. I recall reading in one of my English books about how a bunch of kids planned a trip to a hill closer to their home and packed some biscuits, fruit juice and sandwiches and freaked out. It was exciting! However, today the situation is different and there are many private entities as well as schools that conduct such summer camps. Attending a summer camp is a good idea because your kids will develop self confidence, learn to live for a few days all by themselves and develop their interpersonal skills.

Summer Activities

Those who do not want to send their children away for a long time, send them for one-day camps or camps that do not have lodging and boarding arrangements. (I.e. you commute every day to the camp). Summer activities like attending chess classes, personality development and grooming sessions, drawing classes, guitar classes, dance classes, music classes are rejuvenating and succeed in bringing the latent potential of your kids. Your kids will make friends. Parents living in building complexes in Bangalore will agree with me that there are not enough play grounds in some areas, the physical education activity in schools is nothing much to write about and children do not have much time to play. Even if they have the time and inclination to play, children are unable to find out others from their age group to play. So, they end up watching television. So, any form of summer activity is a good recreation for the child and at the same time, it helps him to develop his skills in an area that may not have been explored earlier. For students in higher classes, workshops are conducted for developing their creative writing skills.

Teaching children household work

Please note that I am not suggesting that you engage your children for doing activities that your housemaid does. But seeking support from your children (classes VI and above) to share some of your load is not a bad idea. Example – asking them to keep their cupboards clean, discard unwanted items, knick-knacks and toys, clean the dolls and toys in your showcase, arranging their clothes, stacking newspapers properly – these are tasks that will make your children realise the importance of good housekeeping. Encouraging children to read books and to set up their own mini-library at home is another fantastic idea. Tell them to make sandwiches and once they have done that, compliment them. For children in lower classes, give them lot of colouring books so that their motor skills and hand movements are strengthened. Request them to water your plants. Teach your children the importance of planning.
So, as a parent, you have the onus of deciding what is best for your child! Remember: Discretion is the better part of valour!

Some tips:-
1. While deciding about summer camps, sift the good institutions from the not-so good ones by talking to other parents or through effective networking. [As conducting summer camps has become an attractive business proposition].
2. Do summer camps have appropriate toilet facilities and access to clean and safe drinking water?
3. Do not push your child into a summer camp just for the sake of it.
4. While sending your kids for a summer activity, do not overlook the necessity of linking this activity with the benefits that the child will get when the school re-opens. For instance – if your kid is weak in drawing then it is worthwhile to send him to a special drawing class to hone his skill.
5. Never send your children unescorted to any place. As parents you have to be like hawks when it comes to the safety of your children.
6. If your child does not know swimming, then dissuade the organisers from allowing your child to swim.
7. Some schools organize classes for Vedic mathematics / Abacus. These may have their own benefits but as a parent you have to take the call on how relevant it is for your kid. If you are not so sure about an activity, talk to your colleagues / relatives and if need be, you can consult your child’s class-teacher.
8. I am particularly sceptical about camps like – yoga for children etc. Rather you may send them to classes where they can learn a few hymns or bhajans or learn an ancient Indian language like Sanskrit.

To end this on a note of nostalgia, I recall writing on a 200-page note book – “Ram” every day during my summer vacations. I used to write 2 pages every day along with a bunch of my friends and we would compete to finish off the book first. Once the book was completed, we gave it to temples for wrapping the prasads offered there.
Last but not the least; childhood is a period which will never return. So, whatever you do as a parent, make sure that your children enjoy it. Do not burden or overload your children in the summer vacations in your over enthusiasm. Taking them to botanical gardens or flower shows or zoos is not a bad idea! Just chill!
Happy Vacations!

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