Adding value to school and college holidays
Not only students, but even parents and some teachers, get fully involved in exams, focusing only on the studies ensuring that nothing is amiss.
When the last exam finally gets over, there is a collective sigh of relief.
Everyone wants to just relax. When someone asks what the future plans are, they often say, “Hey, exams just got over. Let me just chill”.
While work and study efficiency depends on good planning, so does leisure and vacation.
In many cases by the time a person recovers from the slumber of a hard-earned break, the time to enjoy and plan is over, and it is back to the grind.
As it is these days many students are saddled with advanced studies for next academic year, or a long series of entrance or competitive exams.
Between all this is the need of the mind and body to unwind, regain strength, enjoy the stress-free period, and also make the most of the time available.
This is also the time to build and strengthen family relationships, since parents do not have to talk to children about studies, discipline etc, and going out on a vacation or doing pleasure activities together can improve communication and understanding.
Those who are facing a series of entrance exams do not have the freedom to take up much activity since they have to continue studies and preparation.
But to such students also I would advise them to take off some time for leisure activities of your choice, since the summer heat can otherwise sap your energy and you may think you are studying all the time, but you may learning much.
For the lucky ones who have a few weeks of freedom, let me first tell you what NOT to do with your summer vacation: Do not enroll yourself (or your child if you are a parent) in a series of haphazard coaching or training camps.
If summer vacation means swimming at 6 am, cricket at 8, painting classes at 10 am, Yogic Math at noon, followed by Hindi tuition at 4, drama practice at 6 pm, then it is not a vacation at all.
Similarly if the vacation involves long distance traveling in unreserved compartments to attend the wedding of your uncle’s mother-in-law’s niece in a horribly hot town, then you will come back more stressed out.
There are much better options.
Here are some interesting possibilities:
Most city people need a touch of nature at least once a year – the open spaces, fresh air, long walks or treks, feel of greenery, flora and fauna.
Ideally the sojourn should be unplanned, walking on paths less trodden, exploring uncharted territory, making impulsive decisions.
Going in a heterogeneous group helps build relationships, understand different types of people, and sharpen communication skills.
Alternately, there are many excellent organizations offering adventure camps. Some of them are Pegasus, WOW Adventures & Events, idiscoveri, Erehwon..
For those seeking to develop their personality, improve presentation and communication skills, and sharpen their soft skills there are now almost a hundred Toastmasters International clubs (www.toastmasters.org) in Bangalore alone, with a few more in other cities.
Using proven international techniques for verbal communication, they give very good practical training through weekly meetings.
Similarly there are active groups such as email@example.com. imparting such training through monthly meetings.
Various other private organizations/individuals offer similar training, including Dr Francis Xavier (TAP Foundation), Aporesh Acharya, Dr Bharath Chandra, Ian Faria, to name just a few.
Walchand Dale Carnegie Finishing school in Bellandur is also worth checking out. iLeap.in can train you in reading, writing, phonics, and comprehension skills.
Banjara Academy trains children and teenagers in life skills and relationship building through fun activities.
For the technology oriented, fascinating summer classes are organized by Institute of Electronics & Telecom Engineers (IETE Bellary Road), Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB, Whitefield), and even the Indian Institute of Science.
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research offers a 6 week summer course for science students (www.jncasr.ac.in).
Visvesvaraya Technological Museum offers courses in astronomy, electronics, biosciences etc.
There are even short-term courses to train you to become an RJ, offered by www.intonate.net, www.audioacademy.in (old Madras Road), Nijlingappa College (Rajajinagar) and others.
If you want to get into film-making, try out www.saeindia.net
A recent offering that comes as a boon to those who wish to get international exposure but cannot afford the fees, is known as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), being offered absolutely free of cost by many reputed universities.
The courses range from a few weeks to few months, and involve going through the lessons and videos, doing assignments, networking with other students, and appearing for the tests – all from home.
The range of courses on offer are mind-boggling, and cover every interest and every age group.
Details can be hand through websites of Coursera, Udacity, EdX, Futurelearn.com. Millions of students all over the world are benefiting from this free offering, with courses designed by qualified academicians from some of the most reputed universities in different countries.
If you are the free-thinking, independent and rebellious type who wants “to do your own thing”, let your creative juices flow.
You don’t have to depend on anyone, enroll for courses or training.
You can evolve your own activities that can take you away from the world of classrooms and academics, yet be a learning of its own with enjoyment.
Here is a small list I made out for some youngsters recently, just to get your mind moving in the right track.
You will be able to look back with pride at the end of the vacation period, and may even continue it in the next academic year:
Gardening, particularly vegetables, in your back yard or even terrace/balcony
Embroidery on handkerchiefs , bags
Cleaning out your neighborhood, organizing things outside your house.
Conducting fun and learning sessions for children younger than you
Knitting sweaters or caps for children, and sell in winter
Doing odd-jobs for your neighbors or relatives, and earning pocket money
Creating a blog on Internet and writing on a topic of your interest
Making Stuffed toys (refer instruction books available in market)
Brisk walk with a purpose e.g. identifying bird species, surveying a locality
Visiting an old age home or orphanage.
Writing letters to editors of newspapers on important issues
Taking up home-based computer data work on assignment basis
Adopting a neighborhood stray dog or any other animal/bird
Planting trees outside your house and watering them through the summer
Reading school text books and making notes for a studentWhile the summer sun gives out free doses of Vitamin-D to you, get up and out, think outside the box, do things you had never thought of before, involve selected and supportive friends, and make the summer memorable.
Date: April 2nd, 2014