As final exams get over, some parents ask: “Where shall we send
our kids during the vacation, which programme is best suited, can you help us?”
There is a growing sense of urgency among parents to enrich their children’s integral and holistic growth. Many educational institutions conduct their own vacation programmes, sometimes with outside help.
This is a healthy trend and is much needed for the all-round growth of our future citizens. The content of these summer programmes varies greatly, from simple fun and thrill to skill development, reaching up to personality development.
From clinical practice and observation, and from close contact with students and parents, I have some proposals for summer student programmes:
Relaxed and yet Focused. After having endured the stress and strain of exams, children will be disposed to a more relaxed and stress-free programme. After being engaged with the Adult ego continuously for over ten months, it’s only fair for the Playful Child to emerge (Eric Berne). Therefore, it is important for parents to make sure that children are not stressed out, flustered, burnt out, or throw tantrums.
Need-based Content and Style. There will be conflict between need and want as parents and children take different perspectives. However, the interest and involvement of the child is important for the programme’s success. Parents will benefit by negotiating with children as to what programme is best suited for them.
Age-Specific and Talent Sensitive. Sensitivity to age and individual talents are important considerations in selecting a particular vacation project or programme.
Accessibility and Affordability. The logistics of accessibility, safety of children, competence, and reputation of the institution/ programme must get due consideration before a decision is made.
Soft Skills and Life Skills. Soft skills, such as people and social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, and emotional intelligence, are essential for success in one’s career and life Life skills are like tools we need, to live a more productive and fulfilling life, enabling us to cope with challenges that life will throw at us. Life skills are learned indirectly through experience and practice.
From Vacation Training to Life’s Vocation. If properly handled, vacation programmes can build up and strengthen the young person to grow up holistically and purposefully. For parents, the vacation could be the best possible time to attend to the child’s more serious problems, in academics, behaviour, health, and so on. Let us take two examples of such long term projects:
Meera, a student of Class VII, is a slow writer and makes spelling mistakes. This summer, she has been motivated to tackle this vexing problem. With the support of the family and a resource person she is on her way to making great improvement.
Joe, a student of Class IX, wants to work on his exam phobia this summer. For Joe, this summer break will give him so much freedom from the fear of exams.
Most people associate learning with formal education, but learning can and should be a lifelong process that enhances our understanding of the world and improves the quality of our life.
Vacation training and projects are just the beginning of that long journey, where everything is co curricular, nothing extracurricular.