Summer vacations are in full swing. It is that time of the year, when kids can be just kids, doing crazy things, running on the streets, and spending hours on a favorite hobby. But, well, I may be wrong here. Gone are the days, when time is spent playing with neighbors and friends at the local park or kicking ball in an empty ground in the locality. Thanks to our busy lives and the shrinking size of families, kids have fewer companions. Not to forget the growing menace of hand held gadgets in our daily lives.
No wonder, we find summer camps of sorts in every nook and corner. Parents find it easier to pack the child’s day with structured activities, keeping them not only occupied (presumably productive) but also away from television and technology. From ballet, to piano, sketching to tennis, Bollywood dance classes to gymnastics, centres running these summer camps flourish and prosper a great deal in the two months of vacation. Not that I am against any form of learning. Such activities of music, dance, dramatics and sports surely do wonders to a child’s self-confidence. It sure is good to learn something outside of school. Much as I acknowledge this fact and also admire parents who dedicate their time ricocheting between classes, yet, I prefer spending that time with the child doing the most unstructured of activities.
I must confess though, that this decision of mine has many a times made me feel inadequate. There is this constant Fear of Missing Out, as I notice parents and kids displaying the multitude of skills picked up in just the two months.
But I constantly make an effort to remind myself that what best I can do for my child is give her my time and equip her by myself with a bit of extra skills, to help raise her confidence. I cannot over-schedule her life, not yet. Each child is different. They have their own pace to learn, develop interests and pursue passions. It pays to not push them beyond their comfort level but, allow them to discover interests on their own. It’s much needed to give the child that blank space during the vacation to dream, breathe and explore the world around. One needs to strike a balance- between free playtime and the exposure to learn something new. Learning will happen even through simple hobbies. Let them work their own stories through pots, pans or just about anything. Do things together, dance away, or just sing aloud.
As Robin Sharma the motivational speaker and author once said, “The greatest gift you can give to your child is the gift of your time. And the greatest gift you will ever give yourself is that of enjoying your child”. And vacation times are the best time to bond and build memories.