For middle-schoolers, holidays means time for video games, idling on social media, sleeping late, and staying away from coursework. But, holidays are a great time to fit in activities that you otherwise didn’t get time for during the course year.
As a teacher at UnicMinds, I always say that holidays are a great time to reflect on life and to learn something that students otherwise wouldn’t take a good chunk of time to learn. Often in regular coursework, students are inundated with a lot of running around with classes, assignments, exams, and projects that they don’t really get time to reflect on things that they’re learning in a relaxed manner. Each student is different and some students can reflect on things even in the rushed times, but some students need time off to really reflect on their learnings.
We conducted a focus group on this topic with parents, educators, athletes, and one radio-jockey and here are the main learnings from these experts and their life experiences.
Activity #1: Building a culture of openness through reading
There is no parallel to the habit of reading, almost nothing. This is primarily because we spend most of our time with people that are similar to us or are psychologically convenient to us. We rarely spend time with people who are radically different from us. Books are one of the best ways to learn about very different people. As a person, I realized that I learnt about different kinds of people and professions through reading. For example, I read about varied people like George Harrison, Mike Tyson, David Beckham, Barack Obama, Rahul Dravid, and Abdul Kalam. When you read, you realize that everyone has their own hardships in life and you start to become open to all kinds of possibilities through all situations with all types of people. The world today needs more open people than ever before and it is important to cultivate this habit in young children in a non-judgmental manner.
Activity #2: Break-open and Rebuild
In our childhood, families never used to do very well-off to give all brand new stuff. It was always like you get someone’s something and start to work from there. It teaches you to value what you have and value the little things of life. In life, if you cannot get happiness from the little things, you cannot get happiness from the big things too.
Let your middle-schooler break open something like an old RC Car, old watch, old television, old radio, old motorbike, or maybe your car electronics or explore the hood. If possible, collaborate with them or have someone else collaborate with them. If you’re not sure, then hire someone who can help them, if needed. The point is children should be taught how to break open things and construct it back in a constructive and collaborative way. In the worst case, you may have to call a mechanic and fix it back. But, the lessons that children learn are invaluable when they break-open something and construct it back. It helps them gain confidence in themselves and reduces their anxiety about life in general, because they get the confidence that they can handle it.
Activity #3: Spend time camping
I don’t care where but just spend time camping under the trees, by the farm, by the lake, or in the forest. Do it now, if you haven’t done it yet! Life is enjoyed mainly when you’re idling with your loved ones. It is important to spend time with your middle-schoolers while they’re also learning key skills such as fishing, farming, and most importantly how to enjoy life besides the books and play stuff. Because in no time, they’ll start getting busy with graduate exams and life catched up with them. So, start that truck and go camping!
Activity #4: Learn a new language
Apps such as DuoLingo and Babbel have made it convenient and economical to learn a new language. Learning a new language provides a great insight into a new culture and its people. The group also believed that when you learn a new language it also helps you to understand, appreciate, and use your current language in an effective way.
Activity #5: Spend Time with the differently-abled and neuro-divergent
If you haven’t asked your middle schooler to do this yet, again just like camping, do it now! It is really important for middle schoolers to start developing a wider perspective of things. It is important for them to understand the visible and invisible disabilities in the world. Middle-schoolers should be aware of invisible disabilities such as ADHD, dementia, instant amnesia, and more. This helps children to recognize the importance of the inner self and to be aware of their own feelings and cognitive processes in times of stress and performance. More importantly, it also helps them to gain a diverse perspective about people and that they develop empathy to oneself and to others for each individual has their own struggles.
Middle-schoolers’ academic life is going to get busier, and now is the time to spend some time with them. Take a deep breath, decompress, and explore the times with your children before you realize they’ve grown fast.
Hope this is useful, thank you.