All Woman

Summer is here! Now what do I do with my child?

By Doneisha BURKE

Monday, July 02, 2012    

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This echoes the sentiments of children and teens as the hours spent toiling over books, homework and other assignments come to a sudden halt, clearing the way for a summer filled with going to bed late and forgetting the alarm clock.

While the summer break is meant to be filled with fun, fun and more fun, many parents experience anxiety trying to figure out what they will do with their children for two whole months. Whatever the decision, parents should ensure that the selected activity makes purposeful use of their children's time.

The options are numerous and my list of suggestions is by no means exhaustive. Purposeful activities that children should direct their attention and interest toward include:

Summer camp: There is no shortage of summer camps for children to attend in Jamaica. With that said, parents should sit with their children and involve them in making the final decision about what summer camp they will be attending. In selecting a camp, the safety of campers is paramount. Ensure that camp leaders/directors and other personnel are certified or adequately trained, activities are of interest, age-appropriate, offer the opportunity for growth and expansion of knowledge, help to develop self-confidence, and teach children how to work in teams, among other things.

Hobbies: Many children enjoy reading, baking, building things and even backyard farming. Preparing for exams, however, might not allow them enough free time to partake in their hobbies. Summer provides the perfect opportunity to re-engage them. Avid readers can start a book club, possibly with books on their upcoming reading list for school, and discuss themes with friends who share a similar passion for reading. This provides an excellent head start to the school year. Moreover, children and teens can turn their hobbies into a lucrative business enabling them to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Summer employment: This is especially important to teenagers. Summer employment provides a most obvious reward -- money, but it also helps to prepare them for the imminent world of work.

Volunteering: Perhaps the first and biggest benefit a child or adolescent will gain from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country. Volunteering helps to foster altruism and prosocial behaviour in children and adolescents. In addition it helps in the development of pride, satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and helps to boost self-esteem and self-confidence, among other things.

Preparing for the new school year: While no child or teen will jump at this opportunity, it is still a very good option. Summer provides the perfect opportunity for children and teens to brush up on skills, review material that was not fully understood during the school year, or prepare for the upcoming school year by putting them ahead of the game, so to speak. Summer school is a very popular choice and most schools offer classes in a variety of subject areas.

No child or teen should be stuck at home this summer simply watching TV, playing video games, talking endlessly on the phone, and sleeping. Ensure that that they get out of the house. Not only will it make for happy parents, but also happy children as well.

Doneisha Burke is a clinical psychologist (MSc) and lecturer specialising in child and adolescent issues. She may be contacted at burkepsych@yahoo.com

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