Keep kids interested this summer

Six ways to ensure children are kept motivated, active and engaged this summer


Rory Galvin, head of secondary at Uptown School, a Taaleem school in Mirdiff, has put together six ways to ensure children are kept motivated, active and engaged this summer. 

At this time of the year, many parents ask me what can their children do over the summer to maintain progress in school. I am often asked by parents if kids can take home school texts, or if teachers can set extra work so that students can be occupied over the summer months. The reality is that, unless it is very carefully managed, there is very little gain to be had from simply piling on more of the same type of work during the summer break. Believe it or not, kids need a rest, (as do parents!). The key to a productive summer is to keep kids active, motivated and engaged. But what opportunities are there to keep up to speed with academics while also trying out new things?
1 Read, Read, Read
The summer break offers students an ideal chance to read for fun. Research shows that students who read during the summer months can actually make gains in their reading comprehension and overall literacy skills. It is also an ideal time to read in one’s native language. It doesn’t have to be English, as maintenance of the mother tongue has shown to be beneficial in acquiring other languages. Join a library, take them to a bookshop and allow them to browse the shelves. Giving them a choice on what they read will instill a love of reading and it will become a lifelong habit. For those digital natives in the family who can’t bear to tear themselves away from their screens, downloading E-books onto the Kindle app can be a happy compromise, although nothing beats the atmosphere of a library in my book!

2 Keep a Journal or blog
Lots of interesting things happen during the summer. Keeping a written record of what you have done is an ideal way to reflect, and improve writing skills for kids of all ages. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on paper either; there are lots of online blogging tools such as WordPress, where you can upload your entries along with photos and videos. Having a family blog is a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives over the summer, and there is the added bonus that everyone in the family can contribute a blog entry.

3 Take a course
Photography, drama, dance, cookery, martial arts, music, scuba diving, creative writing, parkour, computer coding, robotics — the list is endless. One of the best things about the summer break is that kids have an extended period of time to actually learn something new that may not be offered in school.
There are lots of companies in Dubai that offer courses during the summer months — and the good thing is that many of them are indoors so they can escape the heat!

4 Get involved or volunteer
Most schools in Dubai have some kind of community outreach programme. Creativity, Action and Service is a major component of the IB programmes and is not just limited to school sponsored activities. The summer break is an ideal time to get involved with local organisations and charities, who are always on the lookout for people willing to give a helping hand.

5 Be a tourist
For many families, summer means escaping the heat of Dubai for a holiday where the weather is more hospitable. Trips to museums, historical landmarks and famous attractions can always be made more relevant and engaging for kids of all ages. Bring some sketchbooks and pencils if you are visiting a museum.
Nothing beats sketching the actual Mona Lisa in The Louvre! If you are staying in Dubai, take an abra to Old Dubai and visit Dubai Museum in the Bastakiya area. The museum is housed in the iconic Al Fahidi Fort, reputed to be the oldest building in the city. Whether you are at home or abroad, being a tourist for a day makes you look at the place through a different lens, sparking your kid’s natural curiosity streak.

6 Work experience
A day in the office with mum or dad is an extremely worthwhile learning experience, which cannot be replicated in school. Spending some time as an intern gives kids some real world experience, which they can take back into the classroom. Whether it is interacting with customers, processing orders, running off photocopies or even answering the phones, the added responsibility of working in a team and dealing with people, reinforces real world skills that employers cry out for.

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