Are your kids at camp this summer? Or, maybe you're considering a summer camp for August, yet simply don't know what to choose?
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com asked principals across the UAE about their thoughts on summer camp, what to look for and which activities they think are best for your child.
We spoke to: Jumeirah College's, Simon O'Connor, Chis McDermott, principal at Oaktree Primary School, Brendon Fulton, principal at Dubai British School (DBS), John Nolan, principal at Sharjah English School and Matthew Burfield, principal at GEMS Founders to find out more...
Simon O'Connor: The diversity of different camps is now enormous, and provide one of the ways in which students can both carry on their learning through the summer, but also get opportunities to explore something new as well.
Students can specialise in sports, leadership, or reinforce subjects which they may find more challenging and in which they need some support.
Whilst there are many summer schools in UAE, it is also worth pointing out there are also many opportunities internationally as well. For example, GEMS has a wonderful school in France at Ecole des Roches. Camps such as these enable students to explore the world, make new friends, make wonderful memories and experience things they would not normally be able to.
John Nolan: I think camps and activities in the summer are fine - especially for specialised training to extend the areas where students excel (soccer camp/maths/programming/film making/cooking etc.). It's also ideal to acquire new skills that may not be possible through school (sailing courses/new languages etc.)
It is important, however, that children are thrown back on their own resources at times and that not every minute is organised around them. Give them reflection/reading/solitude time also ..... there's not much of that available in the modern world.
I appreciate the importance of children disengaging from social media for extended periods. Especially important for ex-pat children, I think. I have had experience of children visiting rural life in Ireland and not being able to immerse themselves in the different experience because they were so anxious to be in constant touch with friends in Singapore, UK, Dubai, Sri Lanka etc. Travel can only broaden the mind if you can feel the difference, and don't feel the constant need to validate everything though a device.
Chris McDermott: In principle, Summer camps are a good thing for both Primary and Secondary students.
If organised well, they help students to have structured time, make new friends and learn new skills. They also help parents to organise their working lives, which must be a bonus!
As with everything, it is important that students enjoy their time at the camps, and do not feel that they are expected to follow a path which appears too similar to the more academic side of school life.
Yes, of course, students should read as well as play sports and investigate, but they should do this because they want to, not because they are forced to.
As with most things, the best thing that the adults in their lives can do is to set a good example, so if we want our children to read, we should do so, and if we want our children to play sports, they should see the pleasure we get doing this ourselves.
Matthew Burfield: There is a great value in Holiday camps/activities for children particularly with such a long summer holiday as we have in international schools around the world.
The important consideration for these is that they enrich what the child has been doing at school and do not replicate. Children work hard at school all year and this is the time for them to try other experiences that may complement what they do at school but should not be the same.
Primary children should have lots of opportunity to play, socialise and develop independence. Secondary children should be able to develop a skill or an interest which they have not had the chance to fully explore because of the demands of school. In general children need to experience more freedom during the holidays so that they can initiate more of their own learning.
Brendon Fulton: Love the idea of these, but would caution parents to look carefully at vendors to ensure that there is a good balance between holiday activities and proper ‘down time’. Most kids would have worked hard during the year and will need an opportunity to shut down for a while. Educational trips, if well-conceived, are a great way for kids to get this balance.