Summer slide (2)
Last Wednesday, I began to write about the risks of summer slide, a term used to refer to the loss of achievements made during the school year—especially in reading and math—during the summer break.
The challenge is to keep students’ brains in active learning mode. Note that this is different from the hyperactive mode that comes about from using electronic gadgets like television, smartphones and tablets.
For working parents, we have to make time, which can be difficult during weekdays, but even small chunks of quality time are appreciated. Make it clear to business associates, friends and even other relatives (they can be the most demanding) that the weekends during the summer break are reserved for the kids.
(I did get an SOS e-mail from a lolo saying he was waiting for this second part of the column, a good reminder that grandparents can help handle the kids… and the summer slide.)
I wanted to add a bit more about what you can do at home. I’ve mentioned board games and assembly kits (building blocks, science) but don’t think you have to spend an arm and a leg for such stuff. My kids asked if I could get them cardboard to make furniture, something they caught on YouTube. I ended up buying balikbayan boxes and was amazed at what they produced—all the way up to a slide like the ones in playgrounds.
You might not even need balikbayan boxes if you have large packing boxes used for appliances. My youngest is perfectly happy sitting in them and pretending she’s in a boat, a chair and, for a long box, a hotel bed.
Give incentives to the kids to help out with chores. I don’t have household helpers during weekends, so the kids get to cook, wash dishes and, with this Marie Kondo craze—watch her on Netflix—the kids (and adults) pick up ways to systematically tidy up the house, from folding clothes to classifying belongings for proper storage in transparent boxes.
So much for the indoors. The bigger challenge is getting this Z generation (those born after 2000, more or less) to leave their gadgets and go outdoors.
Outdoors can be the garden; join them grow vegetables and herbs. (Flowering plants are fine but take longer.)
Provide for home sports and don’t forget to be gender-fair: Why shouldn’t girls play basketball or football?
Get them to bike, walk the dog, anything to limber up; of course, join them as well. But beware of the risks of heatstroke and sunburn.
Sadly, we don’t have too many parks; I brought the kids to the Parks and Wildlife Center on Quezon Boulevard and was saddened by how it has been neglected. But there’s still enough to see; the raptors are still there, though the small birds are gone. (If you want to do serious bird-watching, check out birdwatch.ph.)
There’s UP Diliman during weekends, more for biking and jogging, but we’re working on expanding options.
Do the museums. For Metro Manila, there’s a good Wikipedia entry, “Museums in Metro Manila,” with 48 listed!
Look up cultural fare on the internet and don’t forget Holy Week’s many activities, this year running from April 14 to 21. Then there’s the month of May with its many town fiestas.
Plan trips out of Manila, especially to the beach. Older kids can help in choosing destinations, planning itineraries, even arranging for transportation (it takes time to look for low airfares) and accommodations. Airbnb is such a boon, with entire houses for rent at rates lower than hotels.
Get the kids to discover the Philippines first before traveling abroad. If you have a hometown, do use the summer to visit. I am always saddened when I meet young people who have never been to their ancestral homes, or who did visit but many years back, with only faint memories of such time.
Look, too, for roads less traveled and hidden treasures—not Yamashita’s gold, but natural ones like waterfalls. Get the kids to appreciate local history and culture. Skip the fast-food joints and discover local food. Allow them extra internet time if they promise to use it to research on the culture, including language, of the place to be visited.
Rather than loading up on tacky souvenirs (many made in China!), get the kids to hone their skills in photography, to capture scenes that might disappear in a few years with overtourism.
Teach them to do their part—simple things like cleaning up—so their children will, someday, get to experience what they did: those wonderful summers of fun and learning.
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