School holidays: A guide for parents

Through sports, children are kept busy and in most cases, rarely get time to engage in other unhealthy activities. File.

Parents have been advised to ensure their children don’t indulge in unproductive activities during the long holiday.

The call was made by Dr Laetitia Nyinawamwiza while addressing parents in Musanze District and neighbouring areas.

Since the holiday will last for two months, she said this is a long time, and children might be vulnerable to various risks, such as teenage pregnancies and criminal activities.  

In this light, Children and Youth Organization, through different sports activities, hopes to keep youngsters occupied throughout the holiday.

The organisation normally holds these activities at the end of every year when children close for the long holiday.

According to Nelson Mukasa, the executive director and founder of the organisation, the programme also aims at discovering the talent of young people in sports.

The activities involve swimming, basketball, athletics, and taekwondo, among many others.

The children are aged three and above, Mukasa says, adding that it helps them to discover talent at an early stage.

“The good thing is that when we discover talent in these young people, we normally refer them to sports federations that deal with the specific talent the child has,” he says.

Aside from this, he says, through sports, children are kept busy and in most cases, rarely get time to engage in other unhealthy activities.

He says, however, this doesn’t mean that children should forget about studying during the holiday and only focus on physical activities. 

He says the children have one day in a week where they also have French, English, and Kinyarwanda classes.

“Here, they get time to fully participate in debating clubs and other educational talks, which is also part of learning during the holidays,” Mukasa adds.

Be prepared

Elijah Niyongabo, a disciplinary teacher in the Northern Province, says holidays should be a great time for parents to bond with their children. However, he says it can also be a stressful time if and when these young people decide to misbehave out of boredom or peer pressure.

He says this could happen if parents fail to plan ahead of school holidays what they are going to do with their children once they are at home.

“It’s best to plan ahead for this long holiday and as a parent, prepare yourself with both indoor and outside activities to keep these learners occupied the whole time they will be at home,” he says.

Meanwhile, he notes that this can only happen smoothly if parents involve their children in the planning.

“Get the children involved in the planning,” he says. “It is important because they will be less likely to complain about the activities chosen if they have taken part in the decision-making.”

The activities, he says, can range from house chores, visiting relatives and even going for picnics.

On the other hand, Mark Ndagijimana, a deputy teacher at GS Ruhango Catholique School in Ruhango District, says as much as learners will need time to relax from school work, it’s important to help them hone their reading skills.

He says this can be encouraged as a hobby so as to give their comprehension skills a boost. 

“Reading is like everything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get. However, when people stop reading for extended periods of time, they often take a few steps back as far as improvement is concerned.”

For this reason, Ndagijimana says, it is important to encourage children to keep reading during the holidays, in the face of distraction from friends, relatives and the festive season.  

Ndagijimana adds that if parents can’t afford to buy interesting storybooks for their kids, they should look into taking them to the nearest library.

“The good thing with the library,” he says, “children can get more than books. For instance, they can get movies and music.”

He, however, says that encouraging love for books is one of the best gifts parents can give their children.

Mukasa notes that encouraging outdoor play is also crucial and breaks the monotony of being indoors. He adds that depending on the age of the child, parents should help them look for activities that suit them.

John Nzayisenga, Director of Kigali Harvest School, Kigali, says this option can be good for all children, regardless of their age.

This, he explains, helps learners keep up with what they are supposed to do, under minimal supervision. 

Nzayisenga says that parents shouldn’t put too much pressure on their children to do revision or schoolwork during this time.

He explains that when students are at school, they are always burdened with classwork, therefore, holidays should be the time to spend quality time with their parents.

Francois Xavier Ngabonzima, a language teacher doing internship at European Institute for Education and Psychological Research, maintains that depending on the level of the students, giving them a project to work on during the holidays is vital.

He notes that this can work well with high school students as it encourages them to channel the extra energy associated with the holiday season into a project or an activity.

He adds that it’s even better if an educator gives out a project that is based on the curriculum.

This, Ngabonzima explains, helps learners focus better, especially when it comes to specific tasks. 

Apart from that, Ngabonzima says a project will give students a competitive edge. However, teachers should ensure that the project is age-appropriate.

He mentions that there are other ways to keep students engaged without necessarily making them do revision only.

How about helping students with science projects that will sharpen their understanding in the subject, suggests Ngabonzima. 

There are also field trips to museums, game reserves and et cetera that are a good way to learn more while spending time together. 

“This also helps sparks their curiosity. You can observe this when they ask questions to know more about certain animals or the surroundings,” Ngabonzima says.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com