For many parents in Ho Chi Minh City, summer break means more than just fun in the sun, it is an opportunity to equip children with valuable life skills.
Parents looking for meaningful activities for their children are filling their kids’ schedules with valuable life experiences ranging from swimming lessons to firefighting.
“It’s meaningless to meet up with friends during the summer, play some games, then return home without having learned anything,” Phan Thi Phan Huong, deputy secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union, said.
“Children should experience and learn important skills which they can apply in daily life.”
Attending free swimming lessons
Dong Giang, a Ho Chi Minh City resident, kicked off July by taking her children to swimming lessons at Ly Thanh Tong Middle School in District 8.
In just over a week, her son Nhat Minh was able to swim without difficulty while her younger daughter, Truc Nhi, was still afraid to jump in the water without armbands on her arms.
Ly Thanh Tong is one of three schools in District 8 that offer up their swimming pools for free lessons hosted by students from Saigon University in partnership with the local Youth Union.
“Last summer, I took my kids to paid swimming lessons, but neither of them learned how to swim,” Giang said.
“This course is totally free but it’s really effective. These student coaches are devoted to teaching my children and are very kind.”
Nearby parents were also quick to chime in with their own compliments toward the volunteer swim teachers involved in District 8’s program.
Vu Minh Hoang, deputy secretary of the District 8 Youth Union, said local residents used to take their children to other districts for swimming lessons before District 8 installed pools in its schools.
“Children can now learn to swim without having to travel too far. They can use the time they save to learn other things,” Hoang said.
The district’s free swimming program now welcomes 320 children from 16 wards, mostly from needy families, to its lessons.
Similar programs are also being held Districts 1, 3, 5 and Thu Duc District.
Aside from swimming, children enrolled in the free programs learn basic drowning prevention techniques, first aid, and emergency responses to water-related situations.
Other districts are also finding unique ways to teach new skills to local children.
One particular summer camp in Phu Nhuan District offers its campers the opportunity to be introduced to new social skills.
The program features three courses: self-practice and self-care skills, prevention and dealing with dangerous situations, and applying natural science knowledge in real life.
Nguyen Minh Tan, one of the camp’s organizers, said the particular skills the camp focuses on were selected for their relevance to daily life.
“The physics or chemistry experiments in the course are based on real-life situations, so children can easily recognize and apply them in similar cases immediately after finishing the course,” he said.
Cooking is another social skill offered by the camp.
Hong An, an 11-year-old camper, shared how excited she was to make bubble tea and kimbap, a South Korean snack consisting of rice wrapped in seaweed.
An hopes the camp adds self-defense lessons to the curriculum for next summer.
“I was once threatened and had my bag stolen while I was waiting for my mom on the sidewalk and I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Similar courses are offered in summer camps in other districts in Ho Chi Minh City.
|Children learn firefighting skills in District 8, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Some districts organize programs for children to experience a day in the life of a firefighter in order to learn about fire safety and prevention, as well as escape skills.
Children and firefighters in the program spend a day together learning about specialized devices and how to recognize and handle potential fire hazards.
The District 8 fire department has welcomed many groups of young children to the program since the beginning of summer.
“I hope the kids will remember what they have learned and apply those skills in their lives,” department representative Le Tai Phuoc said.
“Maybe some of the children will end up being firemen in the future, so these training courses can double as a vocational orientation.”