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Summer packed with fun and learning
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 07 - 06 - 2012

Saudi Gazette
The unbearable heat, the appearance of watermelon stalls on the sides of the roads, and your child's repetitive complaint that he/she is bored are all loud and clear indicators that summer has officially arrived.
Summer holidays for the younger generation can either be time wasted or it can be the prime opportunity to build certain skills, learn something new, and work on self-improvement since there is no more homework and studying for exams to eat up a large portion of the day's hours.
Dr. Jasim Al-Mutawa has thorough knowledge and experience in family and marriage counseling, da'wah, education, and child psychology, he has many tips to offer on how we can make our summer fun and at the same time useful by nurturing and strengthening our faith.
“When planning your summer, there are four golden rules to keep in mind. The activities which you weave into the summer holiday should aim to tend to these four essential dimensions: entertainment, new experiences, education, and spirituality.
The summer holiday is around three months long which serves as a gift of 90 days or 2,160 hours, or 129,600 minutes. Never underestimate the preciousness of time and always be keen on taking advantage of every minute,” said Al-Mutawa.
To get through your long summer holiday without once hearing your whiny daughter/son call out, “There is nothing to do”, or “I'm going to die of boredom!,” then try out these great ideas that we compiled from Al-Mutawa and other family experts.
Entertainment – After working hard at school all year long, students and their parents deserve to have some fun. If you are not traveling, then you can definitely find local attractions in your city such as, amusement parks, a historical or science museum in your town, the zoo, and the beach if you live in a coastal city.
Sign up at a fitness center because exercise has been proven to boost overall physical and emotional health. Most fitness centers have fun activity packages for children such as basketball, soccer, swimming, karate, and more.
Do not overlook indoor family fun as well, such as completing a 500 or even 1,000 piece puzzle that can be glued together, framed, and hung on the living room wall for everyone to admire all year long. Children can also enjoy board games, card games, educational contests, and guessing games.
Become a library member. Reading is the perfect and least expensive activity for vacationers of all ages. Books can take children on exciting adventures, make them laugh, and teach them valuable morals.
Your kitchen at home is an excellent place for entertainment, bonding with family members, and teaching children about balanced nutrition and healthy eating habits. Children of almost any age adore mixing, baking, cake decorating, cookie making, chopping fruits and vegetables (with plastic knives for young children), and rolling out dough for pizza and pastries. Talk to your child about the nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, milk, and fish while explaining why they should minimize sodas, sweets, potato chips, and other junk foods.
Gaining experience, developing and fine-tuning existing hobbies, and building skills. Children can enroll in arts and crafts, drawing, painting, handwriting and calligraphy, woodwork, story writing, spelling, poetry, or photography courses. Find such places in your locality where these programs are being held.
Summer job – Teenagers can learn the importance of punctuality, self-discipline, being responsible, hard work, and appreciating their blessings by holding a simple summer job. One father said, “I found my teenage son a job to assist guests at a local hotel so he can learn communication skills, the value of serving others, and to gain a different experience this summer and to look at life from a fresh angle.”
Discovering a hobby for the first time or learning a sport or skill that you never had the chance to try before. Examples of recreational courses in the Kingdom that are enriching and need a good deal of patience, perseverance, and practice include fishing, scuba-diving, horseback riding, and archery.
Learn a new language and do not limit yourself to only Arabic and English. You can try something more challenging such as French, German, or Japanese.
To make the summer holiday spiritually rewarding as well, encourage your children and the whole family to memorize the 40 most famous Ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Children can enroll at the youth summer camps in the neighborhood mosque, where they can memorize Surahs from the Qur'an and also go on field trips with their friends and teachers.
Visiting and inviting extended family members and relatives. Islam stresses the importance of keeping strong ties with blood relations, but during the year many of us fall short in fulfilling this duty due to work, school, sports activities, and other responsibilities that strain our time. Summer provides the chance to catch up on time missed with relatives and friends, and take your children along too!
Rush to visit a sick friend or relative in the hospital to earn the pleasure of Allah and to teach your children social responsibility and to train them to be concerned for the welfare of others. Involve your child in choosing the gift, such as a colorful flower bouquet, or tasty chocolates, or a beautifully scented perfume. Share with your child the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “Whoever visits a sick person will remain in an orchard of Paradise until he returns.”
Volunteering - Participate in volunteering activities with your children, such as helping out in environmental awareness campaigns, cleaning up your neighborhood park, collecting recyclables, filling and distributing food boxes to poor families, or buying and decoratively wrapping gifts and toys to give to young children living in the orphanage in your city. __

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