Cook up a storm!
Young children show a natural inclination to food preparation and presentation. Walk into any Montessori environment and you will find even six-year olds happily pounding channa, kneading atta, slicing cucumber etc. Before children lose this interest and turn into disinterested tweens, equip them with a few culinary skills. Not only will you be keeping them engaged and happy, you could interest them to fix themselves healthy snacks!
If you are interested in baking, involve your children. The absence of an exposed flame makes cooking with an oven safer than cooking with a stove.
Children aged 9-12 years
Encourage a first summer problem solving project
Yes, your child is definitely too young to be associated with an organisation or a formal set up. Nevertheless, you can help her get a sense of achievement by working on a neighbourhood problem during this summer break. Many urban dwellers live in
apartment complexes that have common problems – a profusion of bee colonies, exploding populations of pigeons, or speeding within the complex.
By drawing together a group of children of mixed ages and giving them a structured approach to studying one of these problems, you may well have found a way to keep your child occupied and engaged
through the summer. The anchor person could be a 12-year-old, who would divide up the tasks – information collection, seeking solutions, presentation to management committee of the residents’
association etc. – among the younger volunteers depending on their age and inclination. In fact, younger children (6-7 years) can easily collect information (how many bee colonies are present) while older ones (8-10 years) can collect feedback (how many residents are willing to explore solutions other than destruction of beehives) and information (instances of bee attacks) and also disseminate valuable
information (precautions to be taken).
Such an enterprise teaches children the importance of doing something about the issues that face us – the hallmark of a participative, active citizen rather than a passive one.
Instill the spirit of enquiry – feel, touch, see maths and science
As your child grows beyond the initial primary years at school, you will find that she is learning a lot in various subjects. You will need to ensure that she continues to ask questions, seek the unknown, and
willingly treads into uncharted territory.
The summer break gives you a lot of time to work with the child, either in an area that is of interest to her, or an area that you think she should develop in. Handson activities, in the form of experiments
and projects will help her cultivate the scientific temper of examining and enquiring. Many organisations offer enrichment programmes with opportunities for engagement (quizzes, talks by practitioners etc.).
Give children a chance to get up and close to nature
With concrete structures usurping the precious little green space in urban communities, children have fewer places to observe flora and fauna. Children in the ‘in-between’ age category are also likely
to withdraw into themselves, with books or video games, preferring the relative comfort of indoors to the sweltering heat of summer. Entice them with a packed picnic lunch to be eaten in a patch of
green lawn within the complex – they may get a chance to observe chameleons and squirrels. However, we agree that ideas on this line of thought are not easy to come by. Organised activities on farms at
the periphery of cities can be a godsend to urban parents. Most such places have trained adults who supervise the children interacting with the animals and birds on site. Such activities may be preferable to
the traditional visit to the zoo. Observing plants, trees, and animals in such a setting allows the child to learn a good deal about habitats, climate, and adaptation in a fun, interactive way, instead of from an