Bezawit Terefe and Samuel Terefe just finished their regular school programs. Bezawit, 11, wants to spend her summer break ‘kiremt’ learning how to paint and sketch, while the 13th year old Samuel would like to learn how to skateboard during this time.
Their Mother, Etsegenet Ayelgn loves her children passion, especially this is something they want to pursue apart from their education. Even though these programs cost a lot of money, she is willing to spend it on her kids, regardless.
“Skills are just as important as formal education. If I want to send my children out into the world with just education, then I don’t think I have done all that I could. They need to find what makes them passionate while having fun,” said Etsegenet.
With the cold and wet weather comes a time when children are on a two month break from school, they are free to explore the realms of their childhood. However their parents deem fit, children spend this time either in summer school, playing, studying or in recent years joining-in activities that help them build skills outside of their academic pursuit or that aligns with it.
This joyous time for students is quite worrying for parents who do not want their children to stay glued to the TV or screens, mindlessly consuming content that does not provide substantial information.
For working parents, this period can be a stressful time.
This concern is especially prevalent in big urban areas like Addis Ababa, where there is less safe space in close proximity to leaving areas where children can gallivant and play without care.
“I don’t want to find my children watching TV all day or sleeping for the whole break. As important as rest is, I want them to test the limits of their brain, explore and learn. It doesn’t have to be expensive activities, they could sit and read at least but these summer breaks are too precious to waste away and I make sure they make the best of it,” added Etsegenet.
Younger kids have lots of options as more summer activities are popping around the city. Targeted at the working class and above, these programs offer activities, skills, learning and so much more in a bundle.
“I remember the summer time as a kid; there were always so many activities. There was the Addis library back then, we would go there and have a summer subscription. We would read, take out movies and play. I even remember putting on a play for the adults, it was beautiful,” said Samrawit Abraham.
“We would also have taekwondo classes, French classes and just endless play time. I honestly learned a lot through those times than I ever did in class rooms,” added Samrawit recalling how those programs did more for her reading abilities than a school ever did. Samrawit plans to enroll her child in such a program based on her experience.
Many experts promote play learning since it provides children with the opportunity to maximize their attention span, learn to get along with peers, cultivate their creativity, improve their emotional health and gain the academic skills that are the foundation for later learning.
Yeneta coding is a place in Addis Ababa that encourages and adds to the benefit of play learning. A learning center for programing for primary school children, Yeneta has a special summer program for children with a knack for computers and coding.
They prepared an interactive, easy to follow innovative courses for students who teach computer programing skills through exciting projects. These fun classes are perfect for learners who have great imagination, figure out how things work or simply love technology.
Other places like Kushneta provide children with special summer sessions to teach fun skills like skating, providing them with mentors that guide them in a safe environment to practice and perfect their motor skills. The social side of meeting peers, interacting and the like is also understated.
Samrawit says the skills she acquired during summer time stayed with her to this day, even to the extent of generating an extra income.
“If you are to ask me about my algebra classes in high school, I don’t think I will be able to recall much, but if you were to ask me to show you how to knit, I would sit for hours and explain,” Samrawit said.