By Gloria Ibesi
Beginning with the Igbo proverb which says: ‘Azughi azu abughi na enyeghi nri’ which can be literally translated as ‘not trained isn’t not fed’ and a similar one which states:”Ozuzu bu nwa”which denotes; training is the child. This is to our folks especially the younger ones with children below or within adolescence under their care.
Training a child requires many conscious and conscientious efforts in molding the child to a desired direction, just like the yam tendril is given the required support and directed from an early stage to its stake. Child upbringing requires more than just providing the child with material necessities; it spans through providing the child also with some non-material elements, essential for healthy behavioural, cognitive and emotional growth and development.
Such includes: attention, support, affection, adequate guarding and guidance against the truckload of negative influences in society and so on. Most of these non-material requirements for child upbringing yield greater results when given by the parents to the child at the appropriate time.
Holiday, according to Cambridge Dictionary is “a time when someone does not go to work or school but is free to do what they want; such as travel or relax.” The education system planners set out this period of recess also known as vacation or break, to create some intervals for students in various categories of education, to pause from rigorous academic activities. Certainly, students and pupils need this period to wind down, de-stress, chill out, and rest especially their mental faculties in order to boost their effectiveness.
For the most part, this article focuses on children within and under adolescence, within nursery and post primary school levels. During holiday periods, especially the long vacation which lasts for five to eight weeks, different parents engage their children in different things either due to their understanding, ignorance or negligence of parental duties.
Some parents, mostly the well-of, send or travel with their children to interesting places within and outside the country for sightseeing, excursions, pleasurable moments and relaxation. Some others send their children to the homes of their relations or friends to spend the holidays. Another group of parents either out of ambition or concern for their children’s academic performances, enroll them in holiday classes which lasts till the resumption of the next term.
The next category of parents make their children more useful to them by making them join them in their businesses while some give the children goods to hawk in the streets. The last kind of parents let the children stay at home, often by themselves, or with neighbours, nannies or house helps for as long as the holiday lasts.
However, there are a number of ways to keep children productive and out of trouble during the holidays, they include:
Encourage them to acquire new skills
In former ages, education or higher education was not intended or imposed on all; only the brightest and those who desired to, obtain higher education. Others pass through the elementary and secondary school after which they proceed to acquire skills or learn trades and all prospered in their various choice of undertakings with or without higher educations.
Nowadays, nearly every parent want their children to acquire educations to the level of higher institutions which is not intrinsically bad since the world keep evolving. Notwithstanding, children should be enlightened on the need and encouraged to acquire one or two skills that interests them during the holiday periods as that may come in handy for them in future.
They can be coached gradually, according to their cognitive level and capacity on skills such as cooking, public speaking, painting, tailoring, baking, shoe and bag making, ICT skills among others.
Enroll them for Summer camps
Summer Camps are developmental programmes mostly involving outdoor activities organized and supervised by professional adults aiming at imparting new skills and fostering personal growth and development which includes emotional intelligence, environmental awareness, self-confidence, independence et cetera, on the children.
It is usually organized by churches, schools, community groups and private organizations. Instead of staying idle or engaging in less advantageous activities during school breaks, children can be enlisted in such instrumental exercise to assist their all-round growth and develoment.
Take them to visit their relatives especially the older ones.
Apart from taking children to visit places such as parks and playing grounds, the holiday can also be a great time for the children to be introduced to their extended family members and relation.
This can essentially include a trip to the village to visit their aged grandparents and great grandparent, interact with them, receive their blessings and also learn the importance of helping and respecting the aged.
Take care of their spiritual and physical health
The holiday is a time parents should utilize in monitoring their children’s health. This is crucial especially for children approaching puberty age. Parents can make use of the holiday period in taking their children on sex education when they become of age to avoid misinformation and unhealthy mistakes in life.
Likewise, parents should endeavor to carry along their children spiritual needs while caring for their physical needs. The holiday can be utilized in engaging children in different spiritual exercises like; reading and meditating on the scripture, learning how to pray as well as the teachings of the church, within and outside the home. Children should be encouraged to engage in more spiritual exercises during the holiday as they scarcely have the time during school periods.
Ask them questions and let them express their worries and confusion freely to you.
Most parents, due to career engagements, rarely have time to give their children sufficient care and attention. It is advised that parents create some time during the holiday to keep an eye on their children. This will create opportunity to listen, observe and ask them questions about their lives in order to understand them, detect and correct some wrong impressions they may have about life, themselves and other things that matter.
Teach them to study, learn and solve problems on their own.
Children can be kept busy during the holidays by assigning them difficult tasks and assignments such as puzzles to solve. They can also be given things to repair and arrange; this can be employed to achieve fast and productive thinking in them. Instead of paid holiday classes, the child can be encourage to learn on their own by reading books, revising past questions, essay writings etc.
Children should be encouraged to teach and take care of their younger ones.
As teaching shouldn’t be left for the teacher and school alone; parents should teach and encourage their older children to teach and direct their younger ones during the holidays. These also can be used in place of paid holiday classes making the children experience other forms of learning that is not from the teacher but rather from people close to them.
Encourage them to engage in volunteer activities.
Children, especially the older ones, can be made to help out at places where they can learn new positive things and places that can impart positively on their lives such as helping at workshops, farms and caregiving homes, assisting their parents or relations in their businesses etc.
Futhermore, the holiday period is exceptionally a period when parents should be available for their children to learn from them after having spent many weeks in school, learning from teachers. Parents can utilize the holiday in educating their children on family values, histories and other important matters of life.
Again, it is said that an idle man is the devil’s workshop; it is unwise to leave a child idle during the holiday as children idle or unproductively engaged tend to easily acquire more bad behaviours and get into trouble than others
Rather than continuous engagement of children in academic works, leaving them still in the hands of teachers, parents should perceive it as a point of duty to spend quality times with their children, especially during the holidays when the children are free and less engaged.
Children spending greater percentage of their holidays with their parents creates bonding experiences, heartfelt connections, memorable moments and cherished occasions for both parents and children. Similarly, children left by themselves during the holidays or in the hands of other people where they may not be given the required attention and without close monitor by their parents, likely stray and end up as vicious adults.
Now, the most distressing part: Most children are being corrupted and misled during the holidays because they lacked the protection which being at school provided for them. Some become defiled, sexually harassed and threatened against revealing to anyone.
The most awful is that most of these children are left in the hands of trusted persons who maybe family members, relations, house helps or care givers, neighbours, strangers and even teachers; who take advantage of them, most times without their parents ever realizing or realizing on time; and by that, jeopardizing the future of the child.
It is so sickening that many parents dodge their responsibilities towards their children, hence the reason some of them enroll their children at an early age of nursery and primary school in boarding schools or abandon them to nannies to take care of their upbringing.
When parents neglect or stagger in meeting with their indispensable responsibility towards the children, they remain at the mercy of external influences which forms their orientations. This in most cases, malnourishes the conduct and disposition of a child and often strays the child for a lifetime. No wonder the admonishment from the book of proverbs: “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverb 22:6.
It is undeniable the poor economic state of the country, Barely does any parent have extra time to spare due to pursuits to make ends meet. However, parents should have in mind that their children are the principal reason for their many struggles and when they are neglected in the course of the struggle, all the toils may end up futile. May God forbid!.