It’s important to divide summer break between homework, donwtime and personal development in an engaging way
Fayza Begum, mother of Grade 8 student in Dubai and homemaker, India
“I think these questions, prepared by experts, are generally useful,” says Fayza. “I do think about some of these matters during the summer break, such as if my children are reading enough over the summer, or are they accomplishing something without paying too much attention to winning or rewards, and doing the task for its own sake.”
A lot of these questions are about issues that parents innately believe in, she says, and they don’t necessarily have to be spelt out. “[But], I fear that offering such a checklist can be viewed by many parents as a chore,” she says.
“Having said that, of course, it’s the parents’ responsibility to keep their children from losing momentum.
“In my case, my son’s school gives students plenty of summer homework, so they don’t lose touch with academics altogether. That definitely helps, but I also take some steps during summer to keep them involved with personal development.” Fayza says she goes easy on her childrenduring the first week of summer break. “I let them enjoy themselves. Then I portion out the summer homework evenly. I’ve learnt from past mistakes when my son would not do any summer homework until the very end of the holiday — and that stressed him out.”
How much of TV/social media?
“I let them have their ‘me time’ playing video games, watching TV etc — for two to three hours — but I also plan to get them exercising; going to walks with me in the evening.
“I keep an eye on what they play and watch on screen. I generally don’t allow any Bollywood or Hollywood movies, expect for some animation and children’s films. I think most documentaries or nature shows are all right for them to watch.”
Venus Ramos, homemaker, with a seven-year old daughter
“We do introspect on such matters [which these questions address],” says Venus.
“[Our daughter] Gabrielle has been active in her class and is good in academics. We also take interest in her extra-curricular activities like ballet.”
She believes that the way a child is raised is a reflection on the parent’s attitude. “We are their first teachers. They learn from us first before anyone else.”
Venus says she and her husband make sure that their daughter is kept busy during the summer vacation.
“Usually, every summer vacation, she goes for swimming classes. This year we will be out of the country for vacation, so she will have her swimming class when we get back.
“She also keeps herself busy by reading, drawing and using her laptop for digital storytelling and skits of her own,” says Venus. “Parents should keep reminding their kids to give of their best but also allow them to enjoy to take the pressure off academics.
“Thankfully, my daughter loves going to school and learn and as a result, she often comes home and surprises us with the certificate of her hard work and commendation from the principal. But a break is a must as is some kind of outdoor activity,” Venus says.
How much of TV/social media?
Venus has made her daughter understand her limits.
“Whenever she is on laptop, she will always practises her powerpoint skills she learns in school. One hour max on iPad /computer /laptop.”
Venus also ensures she picks the movies for viewing for her daughter. “They should only watch things that suit their age.”
Preeti Kumar Motwani, homemaker and mother of two children
She believes that most of these questions pointing a child towards introspection and reflection during the summer break are valid. However, given the vagaries of summer holiday and family plans and schedules, much of this exercise may be subject to fluctuation. However, she is of the opinion that summer break is indeed the time to evaluate and set new goals for parents and children.
“In our case, thankfully, despite my husband travelling a lot due to his work and being home only during the weekends, we have both still managed to give our children sufficient time and attention and have been progressively involved with them every passing year.”
She strongly believes that the primary task of parents is to ensure their child’s all-round well-being at all times and for that, they need to understand their likes and dislikes first and not come down too hard on them.
“For example, there are times when I have intervened in their problems and later on felt that I should not have. Perhaps we should have coached them first [on how to handle problems].
“Other times, we have waited and watched to see them solve their own problems. It is a matter of asking them what they are going to do and slip in a line of advice.”
How does she combat her child’s loss of learning momemtum in summer holidays? “If my child is losing momentum, it is a sign of something [missing]. As a parent it is my duty to know what that is and address it.”
How much of TV/social media is allowed?
Preeti and her husband do not have any hard and fast rules on limiting their children’s usage of social media, gaming etc this summer.
“No limits have been set. Not just during the summer break but generally, we tell them that X amount of time in Y periodic intervals is more than enough, even given the fact that children of today need to ‘stay connected’.”
What content are they allowed? “Anything that makes them richer in knoweldge at the end of it. We have not allowed them to sign up for apps which I believe are not approprate.”
Suvarna Dhake, specialist radiologist and mother of three children
“Yes, my husband and I do introspect on these types of questions. Sometimes, we have an informal discussion with them on the issues they are confident about tackling by themselves, and the solutions they might seek to the problems they face. This way, they have a role in decision making rather than us telling them what to do [all the time]”
Suvarna believes that parents need to be deeply involved with their children’s development.
“They should feel our presence and involvement and that I feel is the most important part.
“I totally agree that it is the responsibility of the parents to keep the kids motivated as they are too young to find their own motivation.
“They can get distracted fast and there is much exposure to internet and other electronic gadgets.”
Keeping a checklist, says Suvarna, is a good tool to ensure a periodic review that can lead to constant improvement not just in children but also in parents and their approach.
“We keep a checklist so that they have easy visual goals to follow.”
How much TV/social media?
“I believe 3-4 hours per day during vacation is the time they can devote to internet and social media but not at a stretch. We encourage them to watch family shows, light-hearted comedies and age-appropriate movies. Abusive language, violence and mindless battle shows, even in animations are a strict no.
“We try to make them read newspaper articles regarding cyber addiction and discuss the perils so they understand how it’s harmful to them.”
“Sometimes we watch their favourite episodes of Mr Bean or Alvin and Chipmunks along with them. It’s bonding time.”
Fadia Al Hamed, executive assistant
She finds exercises like these to be relevant and such questions are important to be put, and answered, to ensure children are well coached, says Fadia. “I totally agree that such self-evaluation checks can do wonders given the fact that the children have academic pressures as well.
“As parents, we make sure that such topics are discussed at home and our children understand our point of view. We also encourage them to openly voice their opinion as well.”
However, she admits that there have been some school years “where we have felt that we have been less involved due to our work commitments. “There are days when we both my husband and I are busy managing both office and home. But for the majority of time, at least one of us is always involved with the kids.”
“There will be days when kids are low on morale and motivation. It’s important for parents to keep the communication channel open so children feel comfortable in approaching us with their problems.”
How much of TV/social media is allowed?
“We have made it a point to ensure that children get only about an hour of TV time [during the school months] and during the summer break, they may enjoy watching TV for 3-4 hours.”
“There are times when they want to keep on watching their favourite programmes but I try to explain it to them that there has to be a limit to everything.
“As parents, we need to lead by example.
“When it comes to social media, parents should always be on guard and keep a tab on which programme they have downloaded.”