Summer Slide – A myth or reality
Summer vacation is a sweet encouragement for your handwork with deep love
Educationists argue that summer vacations, ranging in their duration from five to eight weeks in schools result in the loss of learning and even a significant drop in the performance of students from low income families. In fact, David Von Drehle, a popular journalist with the Time magazine through his article ‘The case against summer vacation’ duly points out how American children (mostly from poor economic background) suffer ‘achievement gaps’ in school as they can’t manage to arrange enough ‘stimulating’ experiences during the vacation which results in their falling behind their peers around the world. In simple words, the writer points out that almost four weeks of intellectual loss takes place on the pretext of summer vacation.
Somewhere, while reading and deciphering the above mentioned article, it does ruffle me up to see how academicians perceive the ever anticipated event in any school calendar, with such resentment and chagrin which truly can be circumvented.
Before we consider to attain the prodigious goal, let us bring our attention to the following fact and figures.
A study conducted by NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, India) of about 1500 students certified that almost 7 to 8 % of students have attempted suicide atleast once. About 20% of them were diagnosed with subclinical depression. The most note worthy part of the study was the reasons for stress weren’t just limited to academic performance but also on ‘putting too much burden on a child to multi task.’
Studies, sports, extra-curricular activities and added to this is the frenzy of the social media, not one or two but about a dozen profiles to maintain, operate and to be kept updated. All this with the distractions of media and changing living patterns of the 21st century world is taking a heavy toll on the physical, mental and most acutely on the emotional well-being of a child.
Any school calendar focuses on the all round development of a child and very rightly so expects them to perform to the best of their capability and capacity. Day to day, weekly and monthly events designed and charted out by a school, essentially aims at providing excellence in every sphere. Hence, the vacation time ensures a devoted time to R and R. (Rest and Rejuvenate). Sadly, the term ‘summer slide’ disgraces the idea and intent of a summer break.
History is witness that any child, from any background, if he has the right intention, attitude, the spirit and will to attain excellence, would acquire it in one way or the other, sooner or later with perseverance and persistence. The so-called summer slide is not just reserved for any season to transpire. Even the best of students can regress and stumble due to more reasons than one. Hence, it doesn’t make sense to credit the ‘slump’ in a child’s performance to vacation (either summer or winter). It is in fact a time to be appreciated in an assiduous manner to ensure that a child feels reinvigorated and revitalized to take on the exciting and rigorous academic year ahead.
Engaging and effective summer holiday home-work, projects and journals that are as per their standards, addressing their interests and abilities for their subjects, allow them to make choices for themselves. This, in turn, makes their subject knowledge and learning relevant and meaningful, by preparing them for the real world outside their books and guides in just a simple step that can be taken by a teacher. Planning a holiday project that allows children to kindle their curiosities, poses a challenge and offers them the liberty to make decisions about how they want to work at their own pace. This is a wonderful way to ensure that performance stress is kept at bay. It is the ideal time to provide them unique opportunities to learn things that go beyond the usual class-room teaching. Volunteering to provide assistance to any N.G.O, animal shelters, community centers, old age homes etc. helps build practical life skills in a child. The role of good parenting can’t be emphasized enough, to inculcate the desired morals and values at home.
To end, I would like to quote a few lines by John Lubbock that capture the essence of summer –
‘Rest is not idleness and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer day, listening to the murmur of the water or watching the clouds float across the sky, Is by no means a waste of time’
Kiran Sangeeta Murali is a certified cognitive behaviour therapist and a NLP practitioner. She is presently working in Yadavindra Public School, Patiala as a counsellor. Having a master’s degree in Applied Psychology and a B Ed degree, she also has the experience of working as a centre head of a popular pre-primary school. A proud army wife, she is a beauty with purpose. Being the winner of Mrs India Globe 2016 crown and Mrs Universe finalist 2017(South Africa) and having a genuine interest in psychological wellbeing of children, she wishes to educate parents and teachers on effective employment of life-skill lessons at home and beyond to empower the citizens of tomorrow.