Fatima Agarkar, Educationist
Summer holidays, are a period of transition between one academic schooling year and another, which enables children and teachers to have some down time, critical with the rigorous schedule of work that each year is packed with. 6-8 weeks are therefore a period of relaxation and recreation.
With free time, parents think how to occupy the children meaningfully to give them a head-start. Summer camps have therefore mushroomed and gained popularity because families are endorsing it. There are outbound opportunities that cannot be missed as these adventure camps are planned with the weather in mind which may not be possible through the course of a school calendar. Summer camps are a personal choice, and one that works for one family, may not work for others. It is imperative for each family to consider the child's needs before making a decision to send the child for it. Replacing family time with adventure may not be everyone's cup of tea and remember, children also need unstructured, down time to unwind.
If your child is not ready for such decisions, forcing him/her may not yield results and therefore conversations and discussions are important to avoid anxiety associated with these camps. If the intention is to add a dimension to the child's personality by exposing them to situations and enabling them to be open minded, selecting a Summer Camp may not be a bad idea. The nature, duration and location therefore needs to be thoroughly referenced out before a decision is made.
Come April and the conversations regarding "which class the children should take on during the long summer holidays" dominates our world. My plea to parents is to allow the children some breathing space for them to be able to also understand "unstructured, independent" activities and the beauty of "doing nothing" at times.
Summer time should involve uncomplicated activities that require a child to independently work out what they would like to do next to meaningfully occupy themselves. Mind you, I would look at short workshops that are fun as theatre arts, or art but I won't necessarily look for academic headstart because the idea of a summer break is a "break" from one academic year to another and therefore down time.
A few suggestions that are simple and easy for the child to spend time with and also learn something novel would be Lego, which is a great way to engage children independently and at times collaboratively, fitness routines, joining book clubs because reading is a great hobby to be inculcated when young, photography is a useful skill, and learning to cook, because it will help the child not only to learn basic cooking but also experiment with their imagination… Who knows there might be a hidden master chef in there somewhere!