On our first edition of Parents of Ekya, we host Mr. Rajesh Soundararajan, parent of Krish of Grade 3 from Ekya School JP Nagar. Bang in the middle of the family’s summer travels when we got in touch with him, it was fitting for Mr. Rajesh to share with us his recommendations on how parents can make summer holidays productive for their children.
“We are nearly a month into our summer holidays. Before we know, it will be June and our children would be back to school. This routine happens each year without fail and yet many parents struggle to successfully engage their children during this time.
Children, on the other hand, are excited and are looking forward to this vacation the entire year. They are a bundle of energy, too much energy in case they are younger, for parents to handle. For working parents and homemakers alike, summer holiday translates to one thing – their immaculately planned daily routines going haywire. In fact, like some would say, this is that time of the year to be working on a double-shift, engaging the kids during the normal school hours and after.
Summer holidays mean different things to different people. For some, it would be time to go back to their hometowns, for others it is time to set out for their annual vacation. Yet for others, there are dozens of summer camps and they would enroll their child in one or many of those to keep them occupied.
And before you know it, the holidays have ended.
What do we do as parents? What do we want from our child during this period? What does the child want to learn? How can we gainfully engage them during this vacation? Should we even plan a summer vacation?
Such questions can open a lot of opportunities for us parents and our children. Here are a couple of ways you can go about deciding what to do:
- Start with your goal and work backwards.
- Pick an opportunity and run with it.
- Play it by the ear and just go without a plan.
If you chose #3, you may stop reading here. 🙂
One of the best ways to start is to have strongly defined goals and work towards them. On the other hand, if you do not know exactly what you want to do yet, keep a look-out for exciting opportunities, evaluate them, and go for the one that looks most interesting and useful.
Planning before the holidays begin
One of the best investments of time, well before the summer holidays begin, is to plan. The plan is to identify what we would want our children to learn, do or experience during holidays.
Write down your larger goal (*s)
One of the first things you should do is write down what you want out of these vacations, on a piece of paper. It might be one or a mix of multiple of this.
I want to create experiences for my child (and myself) like ……
I want to ensure that he/she catches up / moves to the next level on … sports activity, or music or….
I want him/her to get physically fit….
Or, I want our family and my child to use this time to engage with cousins, relatives, or grandparents.
Once the larger goals are written down, it is time to define finer details, exploring requirements and planning the route ahead.
Draw a schedule
Unlike school days, where a timetable is chalked up by the school, the summer-break schedule rests completely in the hands of the parents. Start by breaking the schedule up into weekly or daily or hourly objectives.
Based on what parent and child’s mutual interest are, you should be able to draw an eight-week timetable. I call it a timetable because it can be planned meticulously like the one in school. With a well-planned timetable and activities to do every day, it is highly possible that the summer-break will whisk away in a jiffy, leaving both the parent and children to ask, “Where did all the holidays go?“.
Summarise your experiences daily, weekly
Make your children responsible for their learnings and experiences and have them to share these often. A simple question like what they have learnt or enjoyed at the end of each day or the week is important as it helps in giving them a sense of progress or achievement.
At our home (we have three kids), on every weekend, we would sit and discuss how we are doing on our holidays and what we had done for the week. We would excitedly look forward to the next week’s plan and again share that experience that same week. I find that such engagements not only serve as a wonderful opportunity to bond with children but also bring them a sense of continuity and purpose.
In case you want your child and you to share experiences of culture and travel, then it is important you plan what experiences and what culture are you going to seek during the break.
To quote a personal experience, in 2017 we went on a 49-day road trip, driving 10,000 km across North and West India. We travelled high altitudes of 12000 feet, along the border with Pakistan, sledged on the snow in Kashmir, experienced the heat of Rajasthan, stayed on a houseboat, a tent overlooking the Himalayas, a few homestays, and resorts. And when we were in the car for 200 odd hours, we played many games of wordplay, games and had extempore speeches. We never imagined that we could do this, but since we had already written down our goals, we could experience the rich cultures and places that India has to offer.Towards the end of this summer-break, we had planned a relaxed road trip to Bhutan and North East and here we are in 2018, looking forward to another exciting trip on the unchartered waters of the North East!
Here are some good starting points from the Internet
- 100 Productive Ways to Spend Your Summer Vacation …
- 11 Goals You Should Set This Summer – Odyssey
- 37 Productive Things to Do During the School Holidays – Daniel Wong