Here’s a list of fun summer activities that’ll help your child acquire vital life and social skills. Read on to know more.
By Aruna Raghuram
As summer vacation approaches, some parents start to hyperventilate. Questions like ‘How do I keep my child occupied without a structured school routine?’ or ‘How do I deal with my child’s boredom?’ come up. You don’t want your child to spend his days glued to the television or video games. Neither do you want to enrol him in a flurry of short-term classes just to keep him out of mischief.
But, there is a way to turn the summer vacation into a fun and productive time for your pre-teen, where she acquires important life skills and becomes more socially aware, environmentally conscious, responsible and a dutiful citizen. You could select purposeful activities for her to engage in. These activities could teach her skills that'll help her develop her confidence or make her more responsible about her surroundings. They could also help her discover herself and make more friends along the way.
As an old Chinese saying goes: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
Here is a list of activities which you could encourage your pre-teen to take up during the summer vacation.
Children can grow up self-absorbed if they are not exposed to diverse situations. An understanding of diversity, whether in terms of age, abilities, race or gender, will build a more empathetic youngster.
Donate to an orphanage: Ask your pre-teen to go through his belongings – clothes, books and toys – and pick those he has outgrown or does not want anymore. Take him to an orphanage so that he can donate these items. Helping underprivileged children will make him grateful for what he has.
Teach computer skills to senior citizens: Your tech-savvy child can benefit a lot from spending a few hours every week at a senior citizen centre in your neighbourhood. Teaching basic computer skills to the elderly will teach her the importance of empathy and will help bridge the age divide.
Read to the blind: Ask your child whether he would like to spend some time reading to visually-impaired children or adults. This activity will make him more compassionate and sensitive to the needs of differently-abled people.
Learn a foreign language: Encourage your child to learn a foreign language during the vacation and see if she can find time to continue with the lessons even after school starts. This activity will make her appreciate the cultural nuances of another country.
Taking up a summer job or imparting skill-based knowledge will give youngsters a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of responsibility.
Tutor other children in academics: Your pre-teen could improve his own knowledge and communication skills by tutoring other children in a subject he is good at. He could do this for free or charge a nominal fee.
Teach creative skills: Alternatively, your child could teach a few creative skills like singing or playing an instrument, drawing or photography to younger children. This will also sharpen her creative skills.
Learn cooking: You could enrol your pre-teen in cookery classes. Not only will this nurture her creative talent but also teach her an important life skill that will come in handy when she has to live independently.
It is vital that your child grows up appreciating nature and its resources. For instance, not wasting water or electricity and minimising the use of plastics should become a part of her life choices.
Take nature walks: To help your child appreciate nature, take him for nature walks where he can spot animals, birds and bugs. Collecting samples and taking photographs will also make the activity more exciting.
Learn gardening: Nurturing a plant and seeing it grow can give a person immense satisfaction. Help your child grow herbs, flowers or vegetables at home. This could be done in pots in the balcony if you don’t have space for a garden.
Start a green project: Motivate your pre-teen to collect waste or plastic from the house and take them to a centre for recycling. Get her involved in composting, making a bird feeder or rainwater harvesting.
Recycle and re-purpose: Your child could learn to make art and useful products from non-recyclable waste materials either by attending classes or surfing the Net for ideas.
The pre-teen years are a time when your child should begin to realise what he owes to the society and how he can contribute to the betterment of his community and country.
Take part in a clean-up drive: Encourage your child to participate in a clean-up initiative at a local beach or park and join her in the activity to make it more fun.
Take up a cause: Your child could create awareness about a cause he believes in like 'preventing people from texting while driving' or 'saying 'no' to tobacco and drugs.'
Volunteer at an animal shelter: If your pre-teen loves animals, she will love this activity. She will also learn how to respect and care for strays.
As a parent, encourage your pre-teen to take up these activities and join him whenever you can. This will help build a stronger parent-child bond and make him a responsible and well-liked individual.
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