Noof Al Taweel, a teacher at Qatar Foundation, talks about how to turn the summer vacation into an enjoyable learning experience
When children take a vacation, it does not need to mean taking a break from learning – because learning is a never-ending path, where opportunities for exploration, innovation, and growth are part of the world that surrounds them.
As the school year ends and summer approaches, families prepare for a break from tasks and responsibilities, either by enjoying leisure activities or traveling as COVID-19 public health measures allow. And even as children pause learning in an academic sense, they are still preparing for new journeys of learning in a fun and experiential sense.
Noof Al Taweel, a teacher at Tariq Bin Ziad School (TBZ), part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education, says: “As we prepare for the holiday season, we must allow our children to continue learning, whether by playing, asking questions, or exploring without borders.”
Moving away from electronic devices and games, and replacing them with recreational and useful activities, is the first step towards providing a useful learning experience for children during the summer, according to Al Taweel.
Involving children in daily life is a strategy that must be applied especially during the summer season, when children learn everything that goes on around them
"Children learn the rules and symbols of electronic games at an amazing speed, so why not take advantage of their skills to direct them towards more useful activities, such as music, horse riding, and swimming, where the summer period is an opportunity to unleash their abilities?" she explains.
Within the IB curriculum used in QF schools, learning is not limited to the alphabet or grammar. Play is essential in children's learning experience, as educators and academics constantly motivate them to question, research and think, without any limits.
"Involving children in daily life is a strategy that must be applied especially during the summer season, when children learn everything that goes on around them, delve into daily experiences and by building a relationship between them and nature,” says Al Taweel.
A trip abroad, wherever possible amid the pandemic, is also a fun educational experience for children, giving them a chance to explore a different country and enrich their knowledge.
While preparing to travel, children can even learn from helping to prepare the bags. Why should we choose warm clothes, or sports shoes? What luggage do we need for a safari trip or to visit a museum?
"While preparing to travel, we can involve our children in identifying the destination country on the world map, and learn basic information about this country,” says Al Taweel. “And they can even learn from helping to prepare the bags. Why should we choose warm clothes, or sports shoes? What luggage do we need for a safari trip or to visit a museum? This enhances a child’s curiosity.”
"At the airport, we can involve the child in all the experiences we go through – the passport checkup, the procedures on the plane before taking off, and the duties of the cabin crew. All of this integrates the child further into the travel experience more.”
Make them observe things around them, help them discover something new, and answer their questions about the places, sounds, smells and others
Even staying in a hotel is also a new experience for a child. According to Al Taweel, a tour can be taken around the hotel, upon arrival to learn about its facilities, such as restaurants, the swimming pool and recreational activities. Even letting them choose a room or what to have for lunch enhances their self-confidence and ability to make decisions.
Social communication is another type of learning, as Al Taweel emphasizes that it is better to let children safely communicate with strangers while traveling – under their parents’ supervision – or ask for what they need from the waiter or service provider.
And she advises parents to always be close to their children during the vacation “Make them observe things around them, help them discover something new, and answer their questions about the places, sounds, smells and others,” she explains. “All of this will extend their understanding and will also build useful family memories for them.”