The feeling of liberation after completing the last examination in high school is always so breathtaking and universal in a way. I remember removing my uniform shirt after the last paper of my O’ level exams and dumping it in the trash can just outside class and walking all the way to the dormitory without a shirt!
Those who saw me must have thought I had gone crazy, yet I probably thought the same when, years later, I went to pick my young sister from school after her exams and found that all her classmates had autographed her shirt making it look like a graffiti wall in a ghetto area.
I softly smiled when I saw students, last week, also struggling to sign on each other’s shirts in a crazy frenzy. They wanted to be remembered, forever, in the instance that they probably would not meet again. Ironically, they will never wear the shirts on which they sign.
As they wait for the outcome of the examinations, candidates join other colleagues in the often long third term vacation. The wave of freedom they feel as they walk out of the examination room after the last paper fuels the desires of enjoying the long-awaited holiday season as much as possible with less worry.
It is time for the young ones to get their chance at the TV remote control to watch whatever is on air and hang out with friends. Parents will often not talk about anything to do with academics since they think holiday time is strictly for relaxing.
However, as they say, learning never ends and so a smart parent may consider utilising this time to further help his/her children to continue learning in one way or another. In addition, I am not talking about going to the bookshop and returning with those heavy chemistry and biology books. That is so school-like and will probably be resisted.
Instead, you can facilitate their learning outside the formal academic set up. Buy them fun reading books and occasionally read to them so that they can appreciate reading and writing.
You can also occasionally take them to tour a museum for instance or even simply visit their grandparents—who in my opinion are often untapped encyclopaedias.
Teach your children how to do domestic chores by letting your house cleaner do less work. They will not only learn how to work around home but also respect the maid and the culture of work.
Use all available resources by often asking them questions and where possible, using small rewards to motivate them. Instead of just watching TV with you, ask them questions about what they see on TV. My mother used to have a habit of always handing me her newspaper and later asking me what was in it. No wonder I eventually found myself writing for this newspaper.
If there is an exhibition somewhere in town, take them but they should be able to narrate and probably write about their experience before they can be allowed any other favour. If at an exhibition or shop, do not ask all the questions. Encourage them to also ask so that they can build their self-confidence.
Always peg rewards on performance. The one who performed poorly can as well forget about that Christmas gift they hope to receive while the one who brings a wonderful report card can be spoilt only enough to spark motivation among other siblings so as that they too can also strive harder next time.
I am no parenting expert but let us agree that it is dangerous to let your child get hooked on TV, video games and other not so constructive agendas during this long holiday.
The author is an educationalist based in KigaliFollow https://twitter.com/ssojo81