And just like that, the school calendar is over, and in comes in the longest School break of the year. It is good for the kids, a moment for rejuvenation. After all, they have been studying hard all year? It’s a good time to have good ol’ family time with them. And yet, it may not be so exciting for many parents. It’s a time one asks, what will I do with these children during such a long break? It’s a moment where patience must reign supreme, a period to ensure those blood pressure levels don’t go beyond normal.
I am a strong believer of holiday breaks. My teen daughter will be sitting her final high school exams next year. I know what she will be doing during her off season, revision. Hopefully. But then, I also recognize that hard work with no play will certainly turn her into some grumpy girl. I am still dealing with her teen moods.
Many of us, at least in the middle class, don’t know what to do with our kids. There are several factors. One, we live in neighborhoods comprised of enclosed estates. You don’t quite seem to know, or even trust, your neighbor or their children. Because we are busy, because we are yet to grasp the Know Your Neighbor initiative.
Secondly, some parents do not know their children well. As we chase our dreams, there’s not enough time spent with them. What we do should never be at the expense of our kids. There is a lot of societal pressure to do certain things at a certain time, but should we easily sacrifice our families at the pedestal of our pursuit of these achievements? Many children are left alone, left to watch TV or internet without restrictions. And that can come with such negative impact in their future lives.
Thirdly, our education system has been designed in a manner that play is sometimes considered foolish. There’s a tendency to lean towards academics and away from physical activities. It’s unlike in the West, where programs are designed that benefit the extracurricular activities based largely around sports and the arts. We’ve seen many such exciting programs coming up in Kenya, but the prices, oh the prices!
But what options can we look at for our children during this school break? How can we positively impact their lives? Where can we involve them as they take their breaks from academics? Here are some examples:
- Let them spend time with their grandparents if it is possible. It’s always something to cherish. However, it should also be time-bound to allow you, as the primary caregiver, time to bond with your children.
- Enroll your child in an arts or sports program. Let them play in the community playgrounds within the estates. Let them get to interact with their peers through such occasions. My friend Muregz is running a dance program for children between the ages of 6 and 12. Worth considering.
- Expose them to opportunities where they can learn life skills. Consider them doing an apprenticeship at your place of work, or at a relative’s business. There are a couple of programs for teenagers, like Centonomy for Teenagers, where they get to learn how to handle finances.
- Engage them in a reading culture – other books besides their school textbooks.
- Allow the children to participate in church activities. Many churches have activities that will not only benefit the children spiritually but socially and physically as well.
- Be available for them. Be present. Play with them – invest in board games. Interact. Don’t spoil them with material stuff. Your presence means much more. Our relationships with the children are key for their development.
There are many other activities where you could indulge your kids. They will appreciate it, and you will too, as we learn to prepare early for these school breaks. Planning will also help us make financial plans for these activities, especially given that holiday celebrations in December and the demand for school fees in January are coming fast around the corner.