3aa9a16a27868210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q3Food for thought on summer holiday2aa9a16a27868210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____Food for thought on summer holidayEvery parent's nightmare, whether they would admit it or not, is to have a son or daughter in the house for every hour of every day for an extended holiday with nothing to do besides play video games, watch television and pester them.<p>Every parent's nightmare, whether they would admit it or not, is to have a son or daughter in the house for every hour of every day for an extended holiday with nothing to do besides play video games, watch television and pester them. As the summer holidays have been extended because of Ramadan for many pupils, the challenge parents now face is how they can engage their children in more constructive activities. And it can't be just a matter of allowing them to while away the last days of summer.</p>
<p>International standardised tests such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies, recently administered to students in schools nationwide, have exposed some marked deficiencies in the educational system. While some pupils excelled, the average results were mediocre and failed to meet the nation's educational goals.
While there is a long-term strategy to reform education that involves sweeping changes to the curriculum and a restructuring of educational institutions, there are simple measures that can be implemented immediately. The school day can be lengthened; schools in Abu Dhabi have already announced their plan to do so, adding 10 days to the year and 90 minutes to each day. While the summer holiday is a deserved and cherished joy for students, the phenomenon of "summer learning loss" must be taken into account. Researchers have found that a student will forget as much as a third of what she or he learnt during the school over the summer break. And for those from homes where reading and intellectual engagement are not encouraged, the loss can be even more dramatic. The school year must should be scheduled with these dangers in mind.</p>
<p>In the spirit of Ramadan extending the break for the month - generally a time when there are more events and activities to occupy children anyway - is a good idea, but that time must be made up over the course of the year. Increased extra-curricular and summer activities such as athletic camps, community service opportunities, and cultural celebrations also provide opportunities to engage and educate and should be taken advantage of during holidays. At its heart a child's education remains its parents' responsibility. Schools and society, however, must do their utmost to play a supporting role.</p>