Summer break in schools has begun. We at the Navjyoti India Foundation are organising summer camps for our rural and resettlement colony children. The idea is to enable them to utilise the time in a creative manner. They can learn the creative arts and skills for which they don’t get time during school days.
The foundation organised one such function at Sohna village the other day. We involved neighbouring schools to inform children about the camp and the opportunities the organisation planned for them at their doorstep.
When asked to address the children, I shared with them a good practice my mother used to make us sisters follow through the summer break. I asked the students as to what they thought was the reason I did exceptionally well in academics and could answer most of the questions in class despite my missing classes on account of my tennis.
They thought I was intelligent, hard working, disciplined, fond of studies and had a sharp memory. Only one boy got it right saying his mother also ensured the same practice for him.
My mother loved education. She was particular about how we spent our time. As soon as summer holidays began, she would take us sisters to a bookshop, get us the books for the next class in advance and made us read them at least for two hours daily.
I used to read the books out of sheer curiosity to know what all was new. There was no pressure of exams, hence it was learning coupled with fun. Besides, mother would get us story and general knowledge books which we devoured with equal felicity.
I asked the children if their parents made them do this. From among nearly 200 children only two hands went up. These were of brothers, one of whom had got it right earlier.
So we decided to include the activity in the summer camp as an hour of self-study, calling it ‘Know Your Books in Advance’. The children welcomed the idea. We decided to teach them to use the library we have and the computers for learning. We would also ask seniors to teach juniors to inculcate confidence among them besides improving their communication skills.
Majority of the children were from rural background, perhaps first-generation learners. I told them, “See how much I have benefited from utilising my time in a better way as I listened to my parents. I continue to benefit even when my parents are not in this world. And today I am in a position to guide you.”
So the message is that the right practices, at the right age, with the right guidance, and children respecting them, makes them reap benefits all their lives.
I asked them as to how many of them would ask their parents to get them the books for the next class and attend a class of self-study, and even teach their juniors for an hour as part of the summer camp. All hands went up.
This is what the young generation needs or they would waste their time. Summer vacation is for creative learning -- music, art, skill, yoga, meditation, sports, computers, craft, social service, biking and trekking.
This is what we the parents, teachers and organisations owe to our children. We must instil value of time in youngsters.
“Use your summer vacation well as my mother taught me to, and reap the rewards,” I signed off. Fortunately, they were all ears. For me, it was a duty well performed. For our organisation, it was sheer joy.
(The writer, a former IPS officer, is associated with NGO Navjyoti India Foundation. The views expressed are personal)