Using holidays to get ahead in school

During the holidays, it’s easy for learners to get into a lazy mode.

While there is value in getting rest, there’s only so much rest one can have, and, there are other important things to do that can be used to get ahead in school and reduce stress later on in the term.

Experts believe that parents should be at the forefront of this, and guide their children on what to do, or avoid.

The say that without proper guidance, many learners end up involved in activities that are not helpful.

Why it’s necessary to be active

Emanuella Uwamahoro, a psychologist, says that when students go for holidays, they are no longer working their brain at full capacity on a daily; the brain, she says, is just like a muscle, and needs regular exercise to keep it working at its best.

She says that it’s vital for students to get involved in ‘soft’ study throughout the holiday, to keep the brain active.

“With this approach, when the time to return to school comes, it’s easier for them to pick up from where they left, which is not the case for one who didn’t do anything at all as far as studying is concerned,” she says.

Julius Zigama, the founder of Gama Arts Rwanda, is of the view that this is the right time for students to get involved in enlightening co-curricular activities.

Art lessons, he says, are a good way to spend the holiday. He adds that such activities open a learner’s potential to think and create.

Zigama says that students should engage in painting and drawing, among other things, which are educational, but at the same time, entertaining.

When it comes to teenagers, Zigama says that depending on their age, parents should let them accompany them to their places of work, or other places, to see what goes on there.

“This shouldn’t be all day long, perhaps just half the day, as this will open their mind to a new environment,” he says.

Faustin Mutabazi, the chief executive officer of Educational Consultancy Bureau in Kigali, says students of all ages, especially in primary, secondary and even postsecondary education, ought to embrace the culture of reading, not necessarily what pertains to their syllabus, but even to boost their linguistic skills. 

He says that this will help them be more creative in life, by looking at how certain problems are solved by different writers.​

Aside from that, Mutabazi says, students should be more helpful around the house, with chores. He believes that this will reduce their chances of wandering around, and reduce risky behaviour.

What to avoid

Mutabazi says children should not be allowed to visit relatives on their own, instead, they should be accompanied by their parents, at least depending on their age. 

He says research has proven that many defilement cases involve relatives whom minors trust. In some cases, a relative may decide to overwork the child who is there as a guest, leaving their own children to rest.

Students should also engage in religious activities, in order to grow spiritually. These activities include choir practice and Bible studies.

“It is better to keep the child occupied. It will reduce the chances of them indulging in unhealthy behaviours like drug use, sex, drinking alcohol, among others,” he says.

Irene Mizero, the chairman and CEO at Mizero Care Organisation, Kigali, says students should also take time to reflect on the previous term, by assessing how they performed and what can be improved.

He notes that identifying what a child is passionate about is important; they should be encouraged and supported to engage in these activities. This not only makes their holiday productive, but also, pleasurable.

He says parents should encourage minors to explore; they should take them to popular tourist sites.

Role of parents

John Nzayisenge, a parent and the director of Good Harvest School in Kigali, is of the view that parents should first and foremost asses their children’s performance during the term; it’s easy to guide a learner during the holidays based on how they performed at school.

He says parents shouldn’t be harsh or disappointed by their children’s performance, instead, they should focus on what they think could have helped boost their children’s performance. And this should be part of the activities during the holidays to help them do better next term.

“It doesn’t matter if a student performed well or not, it’s a parent’s responsibility to guide them on what to do next. For instance, if the results are good, continue supporting them. If they didn’t do well, use the holiday to help them improve,” Nzayisenge says. 

At home, he says, parents should be in the position to mentor their children, and help them be productive. Alternatively; they (parents) can look for mentors to counsel them differently —academically, spiritually and even socially.

Due to the increased cases of childhood obesity, Francis Kazungu, a general practitioner, says parents should ensure that their children stay healthy throughout the holiday period.

He adds that this should be done by letting children engage in health activities, such as playing football, running, among other things.

“Apart from just maintaining good health, such activities will help students keep their mind busy, make their body physically fit and greatly reduce their chances of engaging in risky sexual behaviours or drug abuse,” he says.

Mutabazi says parents play a vital role in their children’s education.

He says parents should take up responsibilities such as; ensuring the child is not exhausted, discussing problems with them, monitoring their activities, and maintaining a balance between leisure and study, among others.

“Teaching children with thoroughness requires time. As parents, we want the best for our children, and the best we can give them is the right kind of education,” Mutabazi says.

He adds that parents’ attitude towards their children’s education can inspire them, and show them how to take charge of their own educational journey. Through proper guidance, parents can help their children organise their time to learn new things in and out of school.

people share their views

Sam Nkulanga, Teacher at Mother Mary Complex, Kibagabaga

Parents should allocate time for their children to watch television, especially programmes that are educational, like documentaries. This will break the monotony of studying.


Joline Ineza, University student

Involving minors in community activities like Umuganda will be of use. Parents should ensure that their children engage in such activities and, also explain to them how important it is.


Enock Musengimana, Parent

Slow learners, or students with difficulty in certain subjects should get tutors to help them out. However, this shouldn’t be throughout the entire holiday, they should get some time to relax as well


Angie Dusabe, Student at University of Kigali

Learning something new, like how to cook or any other house chore, is important. Also, parents should encourage their children to learn about culture and take them to visit grandparents.

Compiled by Lydia Atieno