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Harnessing Summer Vacations for Holistic Development of Children

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By Chandan Ghughtyal

There have been many unfortunate incidents: two students drowned in the Kosi River, engineering students were swept away in the Ganga Canal, and four medical students burned alive in a jungle fire. Even at home, a child fell from the roof. Other incidents include a student getting an electric shock and a boy falling from a tree. Such incidents have become alarmingly common this summer. Children have endless potential, but during vacation, they often find themselves taskless, thinking that their break is simply for enjoyment. This purposeless attitude can lead to mishaps.

As temperatures soar above 45°C in North India, schools and colleges are closed for the summer vacation. While this break could be a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, it has raised concerns among parents and educators. Many students spend their days engrossed in mobile phones, watching endless reels, or playing online games, rather than engaging in productive activities. Additionally, some children waste their time aimlessly wandering without purpose. This trend highlights the urgent need to channel children’s potential in the right direction and motivate them to use their leisure time effectively. It is troubling to see children from childhood to adolescence becoming excessively dependent on mobile phones. Modern parents, often pressed for time and patience, tend to hand over mobile devices to their children to pacify them. This practice has inadvertently led to mobile addiction, even among infants. This raises a crucial point: adults must exhibit disciplined behaviour before expecting compliance from children. Children learn by observing their surroundings, so parents and guardians must model the behaviours they wish to instil.

To counter mobile dependency and foster holistic development, children should be involved in various creative and constructive activities. Encouraging children to explore their artistic side through drawing, painting, and other forms of visual art can enhance their creativity and provide a therapeutic outlet for expression. Involving children in simple carpentry or metal craft projects can also enhance motor skills and foster a sense of accomplishment.

Introducing children to musical instruments, classical singing, or dancing can improve their cognitive abilities and emotional expression. Exploring traditional music and instruments can help children appreciate cultural heritage while honing their musical talents. Participation in sports can develop physical fitness, teamwork, and discipline, while outdoor games and nature walks can help students connect with the environment.

Fostering a love for reading and creative writing can enhance vocabulary, imagination, and critical thinking skills. Introducing children to coding and other technological skills can prepare them for the digital future. Teaching basic cooking can be a fun and practical way to imparting essential life skills. Encourage children to observe their surroundings and think critically about what they see can foster wisdom and awareness.

Playing chess enhances strategic thinking, patience, and concentration. Engaging in activities like solving Rubik’s cubes, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles can improve problem-solving skills and cognitive function.

Parents and educators play pivotal roles in guiding children. By setting positive examples and creating an environment conducive to learning and creativity, adults can significantly influence children’s behaviour and interests. Demonstrating disciplined use of technology and engaging in creative activities with children are essential. Establishing a balanced routine that allocates time for various activities ensures a mix of fun and learning. Fostering a spirit of inquiry and curiosity among children by encouraging them to ask questions and explore new interests is also crucial. Providing necessary resources and opportunities for children to pursue their interests, whether through art supplies, musical instruments, books, or access to educational programmes, is important.

Formative years up to the age of 18 years are crucial for child development. Research and educational experts emphasise that this period is marked by high creativity and learning potential. By engaging children in constructive activities during summer vacations, we can harness their creativity and channel it toward positive development. As Malcolm X famously said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Knowledge is power, and it is imperative that parents and educators encourage children to harness that power today. By teaching children to make the most of their leisure time, we prepare them for a brighter, more productive future.

(Chandan Ghughtyal is HOD, Math, The Doon School, Dehradun)