Can Hong Kong learn to let kids be kids for the summer holidays?
Hong Kong is a city that places great emphasis on efficiency and prides itself on getting things done. It is against this backdrop that its citizens believe that every second counts and there’s no room for slacking off. When this belief becomes extreme, however, a dogged determination to fill up one’s schedule with tasks may take a toll on health. A case in point is how parents here fit every activity or class imaginable into their children’s timetable, even during the summer holidays (“Hong Kong children need to relax, not boost their resumes, in the summer”, August 4).
Summer should be a time for students to take their mind off studies; it is an opportunity for children to refresh and rejuvenate themselves after a long, stressful school year filled with endless assignments and assessments. Yet, parents tend to enrol their kids in a host of summer classes and activities, which sees them rushed off their feet, with youngsters grumbling about spending almost the whole summer in activities their parents drag them to.
Parents’ fear of their children losing out in a competitive academic environment is understandable, but arranging many summer activities for kids in the hope of boosting their competitiveness may not be conducive to their development. Instead, children may find the excessive tasks physically demanding, mentally exhausting and emotionally draining. To quote a cliché, sometimes less is more.
Instead of asking children to attend extra classes, parents may consider doing sports with them. By exercising and playing together, not only will they enjoy the health benefits of sports, but can also build rapport within the family.
A jog in the countryside is a good family activity. Playing board games and solving puzzles are fantastic as well. Mentally stimulating games give children a chance to come up with creative solutions to problems and require them to interact during the problem-solving experience, which helps personal development.
The idea of playing video games may be frowned upon by parents, but indulging in some good ones can actually teach kids important life lessons. For example, the classic game “Tetris” is so much more than rotating pieces of puzzles so that they fit in with one another. It teaches that we sometimes have to take whatever life throws at us. Also, action video games are known to boost hand-eye coordination.
After all, summer is a time to wind down and have fun, so it’s best for parents to just let go and allow children room and time to explore how best to spend their days.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai