An educationist in Vietnam has strongly recommended that parents treat children to three full summertime months filled with fun and riveting nature-engaging and self-exploring activities which are what some local centers are currently offering. Dr. Nguyen Thuy Anh, who holds a doctorate in education and is head of the Hanoi-based "Doc Sach Cung Con" (Reading Books with Our Children) Club, recently told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about the significant role a thrill-packed summer plays in kids' physical and psychological growth from the perspective of an educationist and mother. Many parents in Vietnam now tend to make heavy of their children’s schoolwork and make sure the kids do not neglect their studies or ‘waste’ their time during summer breaks, which are generally from June to September. They thus send their children to tedious summer classes which arm them with the curricular content to fight for the new academic year. The students, who were tired out physically and mentally during the school year by their burdensome curriculum and extra classes, are now plunged into further ‘misery.’ Summertime, which would otherwise be loaded with fun and self-correcting, self-exploring experiences, inadvertently turns into a ‘third semester,’ in which children’s ‘suffering’ from all work and no play is lengthened. In Vietnam, a K-12 school year includes two semesters that last four to five months each. Dr. Anh revealed she, her staff, and the parents taking part in her club have long been free of the headache of what to do with their kids when summer comes. They now try to make the best of their kids’ brief summer, as school officially resumes in early September. Dr. Anh revealed her 12-year-old son has always been allowed to play outdoor games on the street, go swimming, and bond with his cousins through outings to suburbs, parks, or museums during summer. The educator and her siblings and in-laws also make sure what is outdoor is intertwined with engaging indoor activities such as playing chess, reading books or watching cartoons. Summertime also provides kids with the opportunity to acquire new skills, including doing household chores. “During last summer, my son learned how to operate the electric cooker and do the dishes and he kept up the habit during the following academic year. I expect my boy to acquire some similarly useful skills this year,” Dr. Anh said. Her club has organized EcoCamp, a 10-day summer camp, over the past three years. The much-awaited camp, which runs in June and July, boasts a wide array of outdoor activities including sports, games, art, life skills, and first-hand environmental experiences. Dr. Anh’s club also holds book reading sessions combined with other highlights such as painting, making scientific toys and comics, and art classes. These classes are now given on a daily basis instead of Saturdays and Sundays only during academic years. There are also activities fusing outdoor fun with some homework, which encourages youngsters to share their feelings and experiences toward the summer’s end. Dr. Anh urged parents to take their kids on family holidays or send them to their grandparents in the countryside. She added parents should try to find out their kids’ expectations for summertime before planning on a holiday together. The educationist advised that outdoor and indoor activities be alternated properly to prevent kids from being overwhelmed. “Parents should send their kids to one camp only instead of several camps during each summer. This way, young lads and lasses will benefit the most from their experiences and not be distracted by different messages or approaches adopted by various camp organizers,” Dr. Anh noted. Summer classes to choose from Several organizations in Ho Chi Minh City have offered a clutch of summertime activities for kids in recent years. One recent day, students in the District 7-based Tomago class, were engrossed in their uniquely colored telescope which was in the making. They built the device from sections of water pipes and some other materials and embellish it with their own drawings. “The class has notably boosted my creativity and self-confidence. I was transformed from a shy boy into a sociable teenager who mingles well with others and work adequately in groups,” Minh Duc, a sixth grader joining the class, observed. The young learners at Tomago are also helped to build an all-inclusive website on telescopes. “Launching the website offers learners the opportunity to incorporate all the skills acquired during the course, including web programming, marketing, short-term planning, negotiation, problem solving, and public speaking,” Le Hoang Nhat, 27, Tomago founder, divulged. Meanwhile, Stem Education Center, based in Tan Binh District, offers a robot assembling class meant for kids in the age bracket of five to 14. The class provides the youngsters with basic and advanced knowledge of robot assembly that is taught in English and skills to build a robot. Superbrain Center in Tan Binh District has run advanced math classes, designed to enhance the young learners’ memory and brain power and agility. The classes, which adopt modern calculating methods instead of conventional techniques, make light of the youngsters’ math studies at school. Tran Thi Ngoc Lieu, consultant at Children Center, said its “Kids’ Summer Days” class aims to build up their independent thinking and help solve their psychological twists entangled with their families and friends. The kids also do ‘fieldwork’ shopping at supermarkets to hone their calculating skills. Proceedings during the FasTracKids classes provided by CitySmart, an international education system, are filmed so that learners’ parents can see how their kids are doing. Cultural centers across the city have also begun their martial arts and art summer classes. On certain evenings during the week, the Youth Culture House in District 1 is teeming with commotion with free Chinese and Vietnamese martial arts classes targeting first to 12th graders. Ho Tuong, a martial arts master, said the courses aim to build up youngsters’ physical strength, stamina, and self-defense power. In previous years, intrigued by the courses for beginners, many practitioners enrolled for more advanced expertise later, he added. The culture house offers classes in social skills for kids and teens aged from seven to 17. Likewise, the District 10 Children House has been turned into a huge summer playground, with around 30 classes in skills and art, martial arts, aerobics. The house also organizes a summer volunteer program in the Mekong Delta province of Long An, during which junior participants will experience homestays and help build countryside roads and fix dykes. Summer classes’ tuition fluctuates between VND140,000 (US$7) and VND500,000 ($23), depending on course length and equipment needed. Tuition may top VND16 million ($732) for courses of some weeks and with boarding services. In recent times, parents have been able to buy vouchers online to benefit from a 50 percent discount when enrolling their kids in certain summer courses.
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