Vacation time! “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Over the summer, children from every grade level stop active learning, losing a good bit of what they’ve absorbed during the school year. Though the long summer break is a great opportunity to spend quality time together as a family, it can also lead to children becoming intellectually under-stimulated. Educators across the globe have found that it typically takes 3-4 weeks to reteach whatever was taught before the vacation. Even though schools stop teaching in the summer, the learning should not come to a halt. While every child should be allowed their own time to relax and recover from the stresses of school, it’s important not to let them slip into the summer slide leading to summer learning loss.
To give children an insight on spending the summer vacation productively, a session was arranged for the students of grades 5 to 10 on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 from 4:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the topic: Vacation time! “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” The purpose of the session was to give parents and children ideas on how to make the most of their summer break by turning it into a fun and productive time. The session opened endless possibilities for enjoying the holidays without getting disconnected from academic activities.
The keynote speaker for the day was Ms. Jaemi Byju, the Principal of Pearl Wisdom School, Dubai. Mr. T. Premkumar, Principal of Indian Education School (IES), Kuwait, welcomed the gathering and in his opening remarks, introduced Ms. Jaemi, acknowledging her expertise and the valuable insights she would be sharing with the children.
Ms. Jaemi commenced the session with a discussion, on ‘Summer Slide’. She explained that Summer Slide or Summer Lag refers to the loss of learning that takes place during long summer holidays. “Summer Slide,” “Brain Drain,” and “Summer Learning Loss” all describe the phenomenon and occur when students “turn off their brains” during the summer months. She briefed the children on ways to overcome this through ‘Summer Learning’ which can be effectively implemented through continued practice of core concepts, engagement in real-world experiences and practicing life skills.
She then went on to discuss real-life activities that the children can engage in that will keep their "school brain" ticking over and also keep them challenged and stimulated. She engaged the students by asking them about their plans for the upcoming vacation. She guided the children on charting out a holiday schedule so that they can plan their vacation meticulously. She listed out a variety of creative activities they can indulge in which will lead to learning new skills. Some of the activities she suggested are: ‘Connect with Nature’ through photography, ‘Connect with your Roots and Culture’ through Dance, Music and Art’, ‘Learn and Appreciate Cultures of Different Places’ by traveling, ‘Learn Money Management’ by planning a vacation budget’, ‘Learn Household Chores and Hone Culinary Skills’ by helping parents and grandparents around the house etc.
She advised the children to use vacation as an opportunity to catch up on topics they have missed or found too challenging by spending an hour a day revisiting those topics. She spoke about the importance of reading and told the children that one of the most important activities children should be engaged in over the summer is reading, and if possible, they should engage with the text through conversation with a parent or guardian. She added that a book opens many mental locks and children can learn a lot from different perspectives through reading.
She encouraged children to hone their writing skills by creating a travelogue on the places they have visited or make a Summer Diary/ scrapbook in which they can paste photos of special days and write about them. These writings, she added, will not only help them sharpen their creative writing skills, but will also become lovely memory books for them in the future.
She asked the children to bridge the generation gap by interacting with their grandparents and learning about family history, their roots, customs etc. She asked the children to write ‘Thank you’ notes to their grandparents to show their gratitude and love.
Ms. Jaemi’s interactive approach, bubbly nature, humour sense and excellent communicative skills made the session vibrant and participatory, allowing the children to share their thoughts and plans without any inhibitions. She ended the session by emphasizing the importance of making and maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the vacation by exercising and going for long walks. She expressed her gratitude to Mr. N. K. Ramachandran Menon, the Chairman of Bhavans Middle East, for his insightful suggestion which has led to the realization of this thought-provoking session.
Ms. Meenakshi Nayyar, the Senior Vice Principal, in her closing thought extolled Ms. Jaemi for the wonderful session. She commended the children for interacting enthusiastically, giving thoughtful suggestions and asking thought provoking questions. Ms. Muneera Mammikutty, the headmistress delivered the vote of thanks. She expressed her gratitude to Ms. Jaemi for the enlightening and inspiring session. She thanked all the participants, organizers, and contributors who made the session a resounding success. She concluded the session by asking the children to put the learnings from the session to practice and make ‘Summertime a Productive time’.