The long holidays present a great opportunity for you and your child/children. Like us children have things they love to do and given the tight schedules they have in school, the holiday is a great time to get back to doing these interesting activities.

Below are some tips on how to engage with your child/children during these long holidays.  I know some schools give a lot of homework during this time. Let your child get over and done with the homework early so they can enjoy their holiday and during the last week before school opens, they can go through their school work to get back into school mood.

Sit down with your child/children and ask them to draw up a list of the things they would like to do during the holiday. Let the list consist of specific time, places, materials as well as the help they need.  In short let it be led by the child, this way, the child has a sense of control and ownership over their time something that the school systems takes over from them.

Enroll your child into a talent school or talent mentorship program. Word of caution though. Some of the talent programs have `one shot type` of activities and a pretty expensive. Look for a school or program where they invest in the process of talent mentorship so that your child actually gets better and better at a specific talent area over time. Remember nurturing a talent(s) takes time. This is different from a program which invests in single one time activities that are not linked or do not consider entire talent life cycle. In the end, the child will not have gained competence in any area or will be half baked. Let the program also provide training on life skills because these are critical when developing talent. For example: self-awareness, critical thinking, goal setting, creative thinking, dealing with failure and success etc. Choose a program that utilizes different methods of mentoring, films, simulation, role play etc. This enhance a holistic focus of the child.

Let the child engage in unguided play: Play is good for children and if it is not guided the better. Especially for young children it is best to let them discover and create their own games, its rules and the players. Play is also a way that a child relives the reality they face every day and a keen adult can learn a lot about the child`s values and how they are interpreting the world around them. This way they can use it as an opportunity to have a discussion and instill more values. Parents and caregivers may consider providing children with play materials or toys that are not fixed but can be (re)created in different ways. For example encourage play with found objects like bottles, paper bags, straws, pieces of cloth etc. Take photos of what they made, frame some and keep in a file. Records are important. In a nutshell, engage the child in active activities as opposed to passive activities- like watching TV all day and eating.

Field visits are a great way to engage your child in real life experiences about the things they care about. If your child wants to be a pilot take them to an airport. Try Wilson airport and let them get the feel of the real life there. If they love animals take them to a farm and they can volunteer there. If they like medical work take them to a health care setting (if they are older 13 and above) and let them see doctors, nurses and other practitioners in action. The Agricultural shows are also a great way for children to experience different real life experiences. You can take them to universities or sports training camps or if they like organizing events let them see an event organizer in action etc. Encourage them to prepare few questions and after they can write a composition or story about their trip. Give them a camera (phone camera is ok) and let them take photos if applicable and attach them to their story. These days’ children can use computers so they can type out the work if possible and store all their field visits in a folder or printed out in a file.

Engage them in peer to peer exchanges: During this time children have a lot of initiatives they can begin with their peers. Help them organize neighborhood peers meetings. Let them plan out the agenda of their meetings and come up with different activities to do during the holidays. They can do a neighborhood fundraising to raise funds for something positive e.g. car wash or a simple competition etc. Siblings are also excellent peers to learn from, therefore encourage sibling to sibling activities.

Organize a nice lunch and let your child or children meet their career mentors. Ask your child/children who inspires them most or what career they like best. Make effort to look for someone in that particular industry and set up a meeting. Buy lunch and let your child have a conversation with this person. Let them prepare some questions before hand. If your child wants to be an engineer look for an engineer. If it is an artist let them meet an artist, photographer, geologists etc.

Watch enjoyable educative movies with your child. Go all out: pop corns, homemade snacks like kaimati, samosa, crisps etc.  After the movie have a discussion. Draw out lessons learnt about people, behavior, choices, values and contradictions. “I was once in a youth program where every Friday we met with a few young people and a mentor to watch a movie. Just the ordinary movies we have and it was surprising about the different lessons we could draw from them in the discussions. The dilemmas we saw some actors face and reflections on how we could have handled them” from a Boresha Talanta Mentor. This is a very useful tool for teens because they love movies, good snacks as well as conversations.

Let them learn a new skill: Holidays present a great opportunity for your child to learn a new skill. They can learn this at home like how to cook a particular, food, repair a car part if their older, learn to make simple furniture, sports (indoor like chess) outdoor football, tennis, skating) learn photography, art, music, writing, computer skills, speaking skills etc. Some of these activities the parent/ caregiver can get involved. Go to you tube and check out different skills they can learn.

Engage in Volunteer activities or in real charity work (beyond visiting orphanages for a day). This is the period you can sensitize your child about the world around them and the various issues people are facing. Let them look around the estate, challenge them to come up with some solutions or activities that could help try to resolve some of the issues. E.g. garbage they could form a group and educate people in the estate about not dumping waste around, they could do some cleaning. Also they can volunteer at a children with disability organization, they can make cards or small gifts for children with chronic illness in our hospitals or for young people who are struggling with drug addiction. They can create a video message about a topic they find important sharing. Since our children like and use the internet. Help them film or older siblings can do this then publish these short videos online. You can blur/hide their faces if you don’t want their faces seen in public. Let them use the video to pass messages of hope, determination etc. If they like to write they can write short blog items. “When I was in school, every Thursday we cooked for the homeless and elderly persons and serve them this was a great experience” from a Boresha Talanta Mentor. They can volunteer at a library if the like books or if the child is older and they know another child with a disability nearby let them offer a few hours to play with them etc. Let them document their experience and how they felt. The world can do with more love especially from children and young persons.

Let them begin preparing for Xmas: maybe you will take a holiday in a resort within the country or outside or you will go upcountry let the child begin to identify activities they want to do over the Xmas eve holidays, what they want to see and what support they need. “My mum made us prepare and practice Christmas Carols at home and we sang our hearts out on the D day” Boresha Talanta mentor.

This piece is written by Boresha Talanta Mentorship Program Team. The content is based on our experience as well as the realities of our country. In our experience, children or young people`s activities need not be expensive they just need a little time from the parent to coordinate and avail some resources and the children can creatively develop their own path. We are there to support parents and children. We appreciate that children come from different context; rural, peri-urban, urban, they could be abled differently, or have different socioeconomic status but they can still have fun this holiday by adapting the activities suggested above to their situation.  

At Boresha Talanta we focus on the whole child (social, emotional, physical, spiritual) and invest in processes. We complement the role of parents and care givers in bringing up children and young people who are compassionate and driven by a life purpose. Check out our website:  https://www.eiderafricaltd.org/ and the specific facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Boreshatalanta/