It’s finally here! Goodbye, 6 am alarms, exam blues and panicky messages on the school parents’ Whatsapp group! The summer vacation is here and it’s not just the sun that is blazing about, it's your child’s spirit too! Articulate, aware, curious and impressionable – what a fascinating bunch the kids of today are! You cannot answer their never-ending questions without help from Professor Google. But the technology that makes them razor sharp has its own set of disadvantages.
Research shows that maximum brain development happens in childhood.
Why not use this long summer break to stimulate their thinking patterns and teach them life lessons through fun activities instead of having them glued on to television and mobile screens?
Here are some off-beat ideas to get things going :
1. Writing letters
In 2017, seven-year-old Chloe Bridgewater wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
“Dear Google boss…my name is Chloe and when I am bigger I would like a job with Google..” Can you guess what happened next? Pichai not only read the letter but replied too, telling her he would await her job application when she finishes school.
There is something magical and therapeutic about writing and receiving handwritten letters that no e-mail or instant messaging can match. You can cultivate this enriching habit in kids as young as four.
With just blank sheets and a pencil, you’d be surprised by what they come up with! Let them write to a cousin, friend or grandparent in another city. The younger ones can colour or doodle or dictate their thoughts to you. Then comes the fun part! Teach them about stamps and where to stick them before showing them the post box slit where they can watch it swoosh down! How will this post reach their loved one? That makes for a great role play game!
Ask your child where vegetables come from and you are likely to hear “So easy! XYZ Supermarket, mom!”
Growing up in the concrete jungle where there are more shopping malls than trees, you cannot fault them for not knowing about plants and their vital role in our existence. But what you can do is open their eyes to the magical wonders of planting. Start with a small pot (which they can paint themselves), soil and help them sow easy growing seeds like sunflower, beans and tomato. Teach them about watering (a bright can for their little hands) and the right sunlight needs. Teach them to sing and talk to the plant and monitor its progress. And when the first leaf sprouts, you better keep the cameras ready!
You go to the store and your 6-year-old grabs a ridiculously expensive toy set and expects you to purchase it. Your ‘no’ is greeted with sulking, pleading, maybe even tantrums. A story of every parent’s life!
Why do even seemingly well-behaved children do this? The answer is simple – because they do not understand or look at money the way we adults do.
This summer, give them a glimpse into finance. Pocket money is the perfect activity for this. Award a few rupees for each chore completed and encourage them to save till they can buy something they like. Cleaning their bicycles, helping with laundry and small kitchen chores are some examples of what you can assign them. Help your older kids maintain accounts – simple earnings and expenses so they understand how money works in real life. Are you thinking, “My child is too young to understand money”? Ahem. Meet financial expert Farnoosh Torabi who is teaching her two and a half year old about finance!
What if we told you there is a scheme that gets rid of your junk and keeps your child busy? Too good to be true, right? That’s the concept of a garage sale for you. Ask your kids to sift through their accumulated boxes (best of luck!) and sort out things that are in good condition but lying unused. Their neighborhood friends can do the same. Organize a community garage sale (with snacks and drinks) on Sunday with each child displaying their unwanted toys and collectibles. One child’s garbage may be another’s jewel! Help your child acquire new toys for his collection without a dent in your pocket and have your home all cleaned up too. Genius, isn’t it?
Swimming, skating, chess, cricket, karate, painting, music lessons- there is no dearth of camps to keep your child occupied this summer. But along with these activities, inculcate a new learning this year –the importance of doing your bit for those less fortunate. Children are naturally more sensitive and empathetic than adults. Help them make donation boxes with toys, books, shoes and clothes. Set up a bird feeder outside your home and show them how to care for hurt animals. Take them along to cleaning drives and encourage them to contribute as much as they can. Caring for those in need makes a deep impact on children, helping them grow into strong, responsible and generous human beings of tomorrow.