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School's out, but kids should still be learning

Update: May, 26/2013 - 02:08

by Trung Hieu

With the summer holidays fast approaching, parents are thinking about how to arrange a productive summer vacation for their kids.

Nguyen Bich Ha, a mother in Ha Noi, has been asking friends and searching online for courses to enroll her son on.

"Last summer, we sent him to stay with his grandparents, but after two weeks, they sent him back, saying he was ‘too naughty'. My husband and I had to take turns to take him to our offices, and sometimes we left him at home alone," she says.

Afraid that her son will spend too much time watching TV and playing computer games, Ha is determined to send him on a summer course.

"I am still anxious. Summer camps are expensive, and if we send him to cheaper alternatives around the city, transport could be a problem."

Hoang Thi Mai, a mother of two boys, says she dares not let them stay at home, afraid that they will be naughty and have an accident.

This summer, she plans to send them to study chess, swimming and football, along with academic subjects at their teacher's house. "My children's timetable is full. The holidays can be stressful for parents and expensive, but it's something that we have to deal with," she says.

Deciding whether to send children to extra classes during the holidays causes a headache for parents each summer.

Psychologist Pham Duc Chuan from the Ha Noi-based Children Psychology Research Centre says parents cannot force their children to learn subjects they are not interested in during their time off.

"To select summer activities for children so that they have a productive holiday, parents should look at several criteria such as their family's conditions and circumstances, their own wishes for what they hope their children to achieve, and most importantly, the children's needs and abilities," he says.

According to Chuan, even for families who cannot afford to send their kids to summer camps, it is still possible for them to have a constructive summer at home.

"In this case, parents need to work out a schedule with learning-games that their children will find interesting. You should start with small things that are easy to make but have educational significance. For example, parents can purchase magnifying glasses, magnets and measuring instruments for children to study science with.

"You can give your children a small piece of land or a box, and teach them how to hoe the soil, sow seeds and nurture young saplings. This game helps children observe the process of how plants grow. They can even harvest them and enjoy the fruits of their labour."

Many parents with children aged from 11 to 15 years old choose to send them to military boot camps where they can learn about social values and family sentiment.

Pham My Hanh, who decided to send her son to one such camp this year, says they provide a valuable lesson.

"In many families nowadays, parents are too busy to care for their children full time, so the kids have a distorted view of family life. Some children from wealthy families are spoilt, and have no respect for money.

"I believe that my son and his friends will become more mature and learn how to care for themselves and help their parents with housework."

Parents have many different choices of what to do with their children over the summer. In this era of international interaction, I believe the best choice is learning a foreign language. According to many parents, their first choice this summer will be to help their children to improve their English skills.

Minh Anh, the mother of a pupil at Language Link English centre, says: "My son's teacher, after observing and talking with him in class, recognised that my son loves animals, and directed me to a pretty cool app on my smart phone that has talking animals to help my son learn English. He loves it and enjoys learning English because he is excited by the images and sounds that the animals make."

According to the parents of Vu Hong Anh, winner of the first prize at the English Olympiad competition for primary schools last year, saw that she was naturally inquisitive so they sent her to a centre to learn drama and English. She quickly developed a passion for her new tongue, and has been happy expanding her vocabulary by herself ever since.

Although parents have many different choices for their children, it is important to find a balance between study and play so their childhoods are not lost, and by doing so, I believe that everyone can reap the rewards. — VNS

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