By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

Summer vacation is by far the longest in India, and they become a pain for many a parent who run out of ideas to keep the little devils and the darling princesses occupied. Vacations of any duration for that matter are worrisome. Disclaimer: for many parents but not all.

Show me the world

An Outing is definitely the best option; it helps expand a child’s imagination by the exposure, not on a shopping trip though. Outings could be far or near, in town or out of it. The venue doesn’t have to be exotic in monetary terms; it is not luxury that the children need to be subjected to. Their young bodies are tough enough to take on the adversities of nature and will adapt with ease.

Very young children will like nature, wild and abundant. Slightly educated ones can be subjected to historical monuments, culture and tradition, the ones native to them first and then of their neighbours and stretching out further by and by.

Though outing could be a part of the vacation, it can’t be stretched out for the entire duration for obvious practical reasons. Sometimes it is completely out of bounds owing to varies factors like, no availability of leave or even other monetary obligations on the part of the parents, after all travel does cost time and money.

Not Another Routine

With the advent of summer camps parents are happy to enroll the kids big or small for the whole day 9am to 5pm. Well, it might seem like a respite from trouble, I feel it is unfair. The kid is again bound by routine, which he or she has not set; whether or not the drawing gene pops up into one’s head at 11am, one needs to draw. 12 to 1pm art and craft, candle making, 3 to 4pm cooking on an induction stove.

Innovative, imaginative, constructive, productive and very well suited to bring out all those creative pursuits for a child of a particular age, these summer camps are. Or are they?

Every child is different, says every psychologist in the world. Then how can we have a summer camp for 7-11 yr olds and expect all of them to like all the activities every day? Since a camp also doesn’t come cheap, one will generally be hooked onto it for the duration of the camp that is around 20 days to a month.

Having said this, ‘am not all averse summer or winter or any other season camps, but the duration.

Do As You Like

My 11 yr old had never had a dull moment at home even from the age he learned to say ‘am bored. Here is a firsthand recipe for a happy vacation time that is not only trouble free but also productive without being expensive or routine. Disclaimer: each child is different and should be handled thus.

At the advent of the holiday season or whenever it looks suitable, make the child sit and tabulate a list of things that she or he would like to do at free will. From one such tabulation, I learned that our son would love to learn to play chess.

Before or during the exam preparations, is another time when ideas about ‘what I want to do when ‘am free’, pours in like hails in a storm. The best thing is to write them down as they come. Keep a paper or copy handy for jotting down these ideas which will work as a ready reference when the free time finally comes.

Yes! vacation is free time. It is time for doing things that one can’t do when they are bound by timings; this goes true for school goers as well as grownups. All of us need free time to unwind, to keep ourselves productive and healthy, both mentally and physically.

Amongst the couple of ideas that get thrown the child then needs to pick up a few and make his own schedule on day to day basis or weekly basis, whatever suits her or his fancy and carry them out. They might even show interest in one or two camps which are focused towards a particular faculty, like hip-hop dancing, aqua Zumba or 3D modeling or anything that is on offer.

Parents will find it is way easier to make them follow their schedule than the one made by anybody else. It is also a different way of saying “go do what you like” only it is quantifiable because both you and the kid know what she or he is going to do.

Amidst all this fun one subject should be ushered in as a breather, that is mathematics, whatever the grade and whichever the school it is, one should never go out of practice.

Some kids are not so imaginative or their horizon is not so wide as to come up with a plethora of ideas, parents could help them out initially or why not let them be with the one that they wish to pursue except for if it is watching TV/tab/mobile/internet.

Passive engagement of the brain that happens when children or adults watch TV/tabs/mobile/internet kills productivity and also the urge to be productive. Otherwise, man is born a pioneer.

In a nutshell:

# Don’t just drop them to a camp for the day.

# Don’t just force some activity on them.

# Let the kids come up with their own ideas.

# Restrict digital time.

# Take them far or near.

# Take time out to play or chit-chat with them.

A typical holiday day schedule from a child’s note (grade 6):

Day 1

Wake up to breakfast – Freehand exercise and story writing

Breakfast to Lunch –electrical/mechanics kit

After lunch – Reading

Evening –

Computer Games 1 hour

Swimming camp 1 hour

Mathematics 1 hour

Watching video on Youtube till Dinner

Day 2

Wake up to breakfast – Freehand exercise and Mathematics

Breakfast to Lunch –Drawing and craft work

After lunch – Reading

Evening –

Computer Games 1 hour

Swimming camp 1 hour

Chess online or with mom

Skateboard practice till Dinner

Children who have the option of playing with other kids would definitely add that to the list.Visiting or being visited by relatives and friends is an added pleasant holiday ritual.

Bottom Line(Literally):

Making a schedule only makes it easier to gauge/ measure, whether its fun or work; so that “You know what you did last summer!

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