N Touch
Monday 9 December 2019
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Vacation at last


THE CURTAIN has fallen on the school term and academic year and many are breathing a sigh of relief. It has been a long academic year with the usual range of challenges, issues and controversies.

Children get tired and usually can’t wait for the long break from school to engage in play and other fun activities. This they should certainly be allowed to do since it is a critical aspect of their development.

Parents would therefore be well advised to ensure that their children are meaningfully engaged in these non-school activities because of the impact on their social and emotional development.

Vacation should be an opportunity to ensure that children can engage in a range of activities that they enjoy; activities that challenge their physical, emotional and psycho-social development.

Given the competition and examination-oriented school culture, there is the strong temptation on the part of parents and some teachers to extend the school term well into the vacation period, thereby robbing children of the opportunity to engage in play and develop their other innate talents.

This exacerbates the levels of stress and trauma on children during the school term, with attendant negative social and emotional outcomes.

Involvement by children in sporting activities helps to develop interpersonal and intra-personal skills, as well as developing their capacities to resolve conflict through negotiation, dialogue and compromise.

Given the range of discipline issues schools are faced with, which very often is a reflection of deficiencies in children’s social upbringing, parents and teachers would be well advised to ensure that the vacation period is used thus.

The advent of social media has also given rise to a generation of “screenagers,” children who are unable to engage in face-to-face conversation or resolve conflict and differences of opinion through negotiation, compromise and dialogue.

This is a sad reflection of the negative impact of artificial intelligence on child development. Too many children, with encouragement of parents, are averse to outdoor activities, where their affective and psycho-motor skills are developed.

Parents would also be encouraged to make the effort to spend quality time with their children, engaging them in a range of fun activities together. These activities will develop strong bonds of love, caring and trust and they need not be expensive or elaborate. Quality family time can be had in the simplest ways.

While vacation camps are good, nothing beats parents spending time with their children, engaging in simple activities. Many of the experts would have weighed in on this issue in the prelude to the vacation period, essentially calling on parents to simply spend quality time with their children.

When this is done, children are better adjusted socially and emotionally to the rigours of school, regardless of the level. Teachers are faced with less discipline issues and the overall performance of children improves. Their capacity to take advantage of the schooling opportunity is thus enhanced and the schooling experience is enriched and is more rewarding.

Education competition prompts many parents to get caught up in a lessons culture that has cheapened the educational experience, thereby denying children the opportunity to realise their maximum human potential. This diminishes their range of choices and restricts their sense of empowerment, much to the detriment of the society.

Resisting the temptation to become engulfed in the euphoria of lessons for the vacation period must be conscious and calculated, notwithstanding the prompting of some educators who boldly see profit as the motive. While extra coaching can be quite helpful, it must be done in tandem with what is going on in school and not as a parallel schooling arrangement.

Our society is currently paying a heavy price for producing future adults who are social and emotionally maladjusted, which is a direct outcome of an educational arrangement that focuses on cognitive development, while ignoring the importance of emotional and psychomotor development, especially in those critical years.

While the vacation period must be adequately utilised by children, teachers too must see it as an opportunity to enhance their emotional and professional quotient by engaging in activities that are fun-filled and rewarding. The time away from school must be utilised to recharge and rejuvenate. The vacation must be treated as an opportunity to reflect and introspect, while reaffirming one’s commitment to the ideals of professionalism.

The opportunity to engage in professional development in all its glorious forms must be embraced during this time. The enhancement of one’s professional competence, efficacy and effectiveness must be self-driven and the vacation period provides an ideal opportunity to so do.

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