Leaving children unengaged during summer holidays can lead them to dangerous activities, expert warns
Abu Dhabi: In the age of social media and internet connectivity, when opportunities for interpersonal contact have become limited, it is even more vital that children use their summer break to develop essential life skills.
Cultivating these skills often goes on the back burner when there are academic pressures, but it is these qualities that help children distinguish themselves when they finally become professionals, Amin Hamdan, senior consultant and trainer at educational consultancy Focal Point Management Consultancy, told Gulf News.
“Learning does not stop during the summer, but if children are exposed only to social media and their devices, this is all they will learn,” Hamdan cautioned.
His advice to parents:
Help children translate classroom-based learning into practical experiences during their summer downtime. This, in turn, will help children fare better when they return to school.
Look out for educational opportunities during summer holidays. For instance, I was repotting a plant the other day, and I began to explain the science between soil and water to my three-year-old. Children are always curious, especially if parents can make lessons engaging instead of tedious and boring.
Help children find the right online content: Just as there are harmful resources online, so too are there channels that help children learn about the sciences or the arts. Limit time spent online to only about an hour a day for children aged below seven years.
Gadgets tend to isolate children: This absolutely should not happen during the summer break. Instead, the time should be used to strengthen family bonding, and figure out children’s interests.
Arrange for visits to places of cultural or historical interest: Buy resources like books and blocks for younger children. Keep an eye out for signs of interest among children, which could indicate their future interests and passions.
Structure summer time well: Given all the demands of their daily lives, it is easy for parents to forget that the summer break is a special time for children. This time must be structured carefully, yet in a fun way, so that children are not left unengaged to seek out dangerous activities.
Encourage the habit to reflect: As children grow, parents must also help them reflect on their time at school, and guide them to hone the skills they enjoy, whether it be music or crafts or sports.
Work on setting goals: Children can also work with parents to set goals for the year ahead, which would give them a better sense of direction and purpose when they finally return to school.