DH Education: What's your plan for summer?

Students can do a variety of activities like trekking, gardening and pet walking during the vacation. DH ILLUSTRATION BY PRAKASH S

Cliff Richard’s song Summer Holiday sums up the spirit of summer for all those who know to enjoy life, chase dreams and do all the things they wanted to do. The blue sea and the endless sands do not spell just a beach holiday but also symbolise the unexplored grounds and ideas. So, put on your thinking caps and dare to look beyond summer camps, hobby classes and tutorials as these are not the only ways you can keep yourself occupied in summer.

Volunteering

Carol, a Class 12 student, states plainly, “We are in for a gruelling year of work, when we go back, for the board exams, but for now it is au revoir to textbooks and hola to texting or screen sharing, meeting and chilling.” So what are her plans for the next three or four weeks? Carol and her friends have signed up as volunteers with animal shelters and are going to pour their affection into caring for their pawed and feathered friends.

Another enterprising 16-year-old, Ayushi, has launched her own campaign page to support a non-profit organisation which is setting up a crèche and care centre for the infants and toddlers of domestic helpers. On the other hand, Megha, a first-year degree student, is spearheading a book collection drive (specifically textbooks and storybooks) in her layout. She is also working with the Resident’s Association to set up a community reading room and is looking to distribute some of the reference books to high school students in government schools.

Get innovative

Parents may dread the phrase summer vacation as it would mean that they would have to be on the lookout for activities that will keep their children gainfully occupied. On the other hand, children will agree that these are two of the best words in the dictionary. So, even if you are a working parent, make buddy groups and have an older kid babysit the youngsters for a fee or a reward. Everybody is happy that way. Some of the children who I spoke to jumped at the idea of babysitting their neighbour’s kids, especially toddlers. If you don’t want them out in the sharp blazing heat post lunch, get innovative and play safe badminton with cardboard bats and balloons and a nice colourful dupatta for a net! 

What’s more, kids love it when they are being taken seriously. For instance, running errands is something they can do for you even during school days. Holiday chores could be more along the lines of a responsibility. For example, you could ask them to buy fresh vegetables each day while keeping in mind the family favourites, watering the garden or nurturing a plant, car washing, walking the dog, helping in the kitchen and most importantly learning to play host. These are fun ways to practise life skills. No pressure and no censure, only positive reinforcements to make learning a pleasure.

Go on a trek

We are not talking adventure sports or serious expeditions here. This is simply the art of exploring new terrains, plantations or safe forest areas, by foot. Jai and Hashim are eager to share their plans. “Our families are friends too and we often holiday together. It is so much fun this way. We are going to Kodaikanal for a week and we cannot wait to walk the length and breadth of the hill city,” they say.

Given this age and time and the kind of schedules for parents and children, even discovering the building and shops and other facilities in their neighbourhood can be an adventure! 

For those in need

When I asked some of my students what their plans were for the summer holiday, I received some unexpected answers. For example, some Class 9 students have signed up as readers and scribes for visually-challenged college students — a very responsible act and one that calls for patience, too.

Thirteen-year-old brothers Sajeev and Saha are all heart too. They said, “We have been volunteering our time and service in a home for the aged since our grandpa passed away last year. We enjoy reading the newspaper to them, playing chess or just listening to their happy chatter.”

Dog walkers anyone?

It has just been a few weeks since the summer holiday began and our neighbourhood already boasts of three young, enthusiastic dog walkers in Chinna, Aisha and Rohit. “We love dogs and we love to walk as much as they do and we do it for free,” they shout gleefully. Rohit, 14, is planning to take this one step further next year and start accepting to house the pets for a fee when the owners are travelling. “I have a Labrador at home. He enjoys socialising and I can use the money,” he grins. For now, the three are working on creating a blog on pet care.

The thrill of reading

“I have enrolled in a circulating library and am going to read at least two books per week,” said Gahana, a determined 11-year-old. “The Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys series, the short stories by Enid Blyton, the Goosebumps series and The Adventures of Tintin are some of my favourite reads,” she reveals. Her grandmother loves Sudha Murthy’s works and is planning to introduce Indian writers to Gahana this summer. 

This may be the age of technology but the wisdom of youth allows for being creative and innovative in all that they perceive and do. Summer’s magic envelopes everyone in a warm hug. Every sunset is an opportunity to reset and every sunrise is a promise of new beginnings. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get prepared for an eventful summer!

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