Wondering how to help your kids maximise their year-end school holiday? City News asks a tutor with two kids of her own.
Are you wondering what to do with your kids come November 16, when the year-end school holidays kick off?
“Holidays are for reflecting, recharging and providing meaningful fun for the family, as well as to better our kids in their life skills and academics, so that we will be more prepared for the coming year,” says Rosalind Thor, a mother of two girls aged 14 and six.
A former teacher who is currently a private tutor, Thor resigned from her job as a teacher to spend more time with her family. She shares with City News her approach in achieving a balance of play and work and everything in between during the year-end school holidays.
What is one unforgettable school holiday experience you had when you were a child?
As a child, my holidays were structured; it was more of a time for “stock take.”
Call it weird, but my memories of my own school holidays were of revising and improving myself. After each examination, I would reflect on my strengths and weaknesses.
When I was in Primary Four, I did not do well in my Chinese composition. During the holidays, I took the opportunity to write an essay every day during the holidays, before the new term started. My parents helped me to edit. Thereafter, my Chinese language was excellent.
My fond memories would be the trips we made together as a family to chalets or bungalows with my father’s colleagues. My father will also ensure that we got sufficient outdoor activities, like cycling at the East Coast Park.
Do you do stuff like goal-setting or having a “holiday schedule” for the kids, since there is suddenly all this time available to them?
With my own children, I work out a plan with them. We look at the academics first. We look at the topics for the following semester’s Mathematics and Science syllabus and schedule our time such that we would have covered the entire semester’s work during the holidays. For the languages, we leave it to reading, listening, speaking and writing, immersing them in the arts through plays and musicals as well as books, magazines and different genres of literature.
Between play and work, what other objectives should parents have in mind?
Holiday is a time to unwind and catch up with friends and cell group members. It’s important for kids to learn to associate with others socially.
It’s also a time to help our children build life skills. Even helping with simple household chores such as making the bed, sweeping, cleaning dishes and folding clothes are part of the basic organizational skills that kids need to acquire as they move along in life.
We have a chart that helps them keep track of the tasks they have completed and they must accumulate reward points to get their rewards, be it a toy, movie, playing with the iPad or getting their favorite pink bag from H&M. The kids choose the rewards they work for.
Our motto is always work accomplished, and then enjoyment.
What are some of the typical school holiday activities for your children?
Camps organized by the school, church (such as Bible bootcamps), or Discovery Science, workshops and the usual enrichment lessons (piano, violin, hip-hop dance, ballet, abacus, swimming), outings and visits to museums.
Outdoor activities such as rock climbing, scootering, roller-blading, cycling, swimming and visitation to theme parks and zoos also add fun and enrich their lives. We watch movies, and try to make trips overseas so that our children will have different kinds of experiences—I strongly believe it is our experiences that make us.
What are some of the more challenging aspects for yourself as a parent come school holidays, and how do you handle these challenges?
Activities can be planned, but the kids may not be able to carry them out on their own. Discipline and time management on the child’s part may need to be supplemented with some form of adult supervision; guide your child, give specific instructions, and allocate bite-sized, reasonable tasks to your children according to their age. Task allocation helps train the child in his self-regulatory behavior and inculcate discipline as well as commitment to learning.
Regarding consumption of the media and computer games, we allow the kids to be entertained by these devices or the television, but I am pretty strict about the usage of iPhones or iPads. It may be an easy mode to pass time but may not be best tool for developing our children. Thankfully, my girls are not too addicted to them. They prefer books. We also record their favorite television programs so that we can select meaningful shows and skip the advertisements.
Some parental conundrums: Do you let them sleep in or do they wake up on time during the holidays?
They need not wake up at the usual early time; however, I do encourage them to wake up at about 8 a.m. Early to rise, early to bed, and it will be a cycle. About eight hours of sleep should be sufficient for both young and old.
How many sleepovers/ outings is one too many?
My elder girl gets one or two sleepovers at her best buddy, Issy’s house. They have known each other since young. We parents know one another well and the trust is there. It’s an outlet for them to exchange notes and bond with each other. My younger one is still pretty attached to home and does not want any sleepovers.
Finally, from an educator’s point of view, how many remedial classes is one too many?
Having quality classes is better than quantity. There is no point in cramming a lot of classes and the child has no time over the week to revise. It defeats the purpose of learning and the child forgets what he has acquired. Weekly classes should suffice and breaks ought to be given for family vacations as well as Christmas and year-end celebrations.