Lead_summer slide
A long break from school can have a negative effect on the achievement level of talented students Image Credit: Supplied

The last bell of the term signalling the start of the long summer vacation is a sound we all remember fondly from childhood. It ushered in the start of a long, glorious break from lessons and homework. This often meant extra hours in bed, more junk food, as well as television marathons.

While no one would begrudge a bit of mindless enjoyment, children in fact often get bored once the novelty of daily freedom has worn off. On top of this, education experts say the lack of mental stimulation can cause problems in terms of learning progression.

A report by the Brookings Institute, written by David M. Quinn and Morgan Polikoff, detailed facts and statistics indicating a phenomenon known as “the summer slide” — a term used to describe the academic regression experienced by students over the summer. One of the most startling outcomes was that students’ achievement scores declined over the summer vacation by as much as one month’s worth of school-year learning.

With schools closed for two months in the UAE for summer break, an absence of any regular activities means youngsters can often end up spending their holidays glued to screens, whether watching movies, playing video games or hypnotised by social media sites.

Thankfully, there are some brilliant activities in the UAE that encourage academic development and creativity at each grade level — and most importantly, they’re fun.

A good example is The Study Room, which offers a mix of core subjects, crafts, sciences and study skills. “The holidays are a break from school but need not be a break from learning; some of the best learning takes place outside of the classroom in new environments,” says Kim Gerber, Managing Director, The Study Room.

Children will lose some of the skills that they have learned unless they keep their brain cells active.

- Kim Gerber, Managing Director, The Study Room

“Children will lose some of the skills that they have learned unless they keep their brain cells active. This is especially true for those children who struggle with focus and attention.”

Bright Kids Nursery is offering a variety of summer activities, including a fun coding programme, ballet, Zumba, yoga, karate and gymnastics for kids between the ages of one and four years. And with its Voyage into Space summer programme, children will embark on an exciting expedition into the great beyond.

“Children will get stamps in their mini passports as they explore new experiences in the realm of space with Lunar Quest, Mars Expedition, Little Einstein & Rockets, and Dancing with the Stars. They will also enjoy dressing up for the Bright Kids Star Fleet,” explains Karan Brown, KBBO Group’s Associate Director of Education.

Children will get stamps in their mini passports as they explore new experiences in the realm of space with Lunar Quest, Mars Expedition, Little Einstein & Rockets, and Dancing with the Stars.

- Karan Brown, Associate Director of Education, KBBO Group

The programme is available at Bright Kids Nursery’s branches in Abu Dhabi — and the first 100 registrants get a month for free.

Meanwhile, British Orchard Nursery (BON) is again running its popular summer camp. Themes are selected so that children attending are supported for the coming year, whether they’re returning to the nursery or moving on to primary school.

“This year in BON Summer Stories, we’re featuring Julia Donaldson’s nine popular rhyming stories with the focus on enhancing children’s sense of adventure, friendship, loyalty, imagination and critical thinking, among other topics,” says Dr Vandana Gandhi, CEO and Founder of British Orchard Nursery.

“It is critical that parents look for opportunities where children can be involved in meaningful activities,” she explains.

Gareth Newman, Director, English Language Services UAE at the British Council, says its summer school is about having fun with English and doing things that are a bit different.

Whether it’s younger kids reading and creating stories, putting on a play or designing a superhero — or teens making a presentation about environmental problems or designing an app — the aim is to become better at and more confident in using English while developing important life skills like critical thinking and creativity.

- Gareth Newman, Director, English Language Services UAE, British Council

“Whether it’s younger kids reading and creating stories, putting on a play or designing a superhero — or teens making a presentation about environmental problems or designing an app — the aim is to become better at and more confident in using English while developing important life skills like critical thinking and creativity,” he says.

Some Dubai hotels are seeing the value of kids’ summer activities, notably Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, which is running a Family Kids Club Summer Camp this year. It will offer a range of activities all the way from first aid training to fun team challenges. It will also offer aquatic activities such as kayaking, sea paddle boating, water polo, swimming lessons and snorkelling. Indoors at the Kids Club, children can unwind with arts and crafts, and reading time.

One of our favourite activities is our WWF-approved Environmental Awareness initiative focused on ocean protection, sustainability and tree planting.

- Buntu Malgas, Assistant recreation manager, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina

“Plus, one of our favourite activities is our WWF-approved Environmental Awareness initiative focused on ocean protection, sustainability and tree planting — and our resort is the perfect classroom for this,” says Buntu Malgas, the resort’s assistant recreation manager.