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How sports, coding, arts keep children busy during summer holidays


Kids learning how to make headgear in a bid to maximise the summer holiday at Mictec International School, Oko Oba, Lagos. PHOTO: SUNDAY AKINLOLU

“Holiday is coming! Holiday is coming! No more clanging bells! No more teachers’ whip! Goodbye teachers, goodbye scholars; we are going on a jolly holiday!”

A popular primary school song, pupils always look forward to when they will sing the above lyrics. They are usually under immense pressure for about 12 weeks every term and as such any opportunity for a gate away from the school environment is heralded with joy. The summer holiday presents the best of that opportunity in Nigeria with about eight weeks to be off school works. But then it comes with the challenge of ensuring that children don’t lose grasp of what they had learnt in school or deviate into unwholesome acts; afterwards it is said that an idle brain is the devils workshop.

To avoid this, the idea of summer lessons cropped up. But a lot of experts have argued that it amounts to still over burdening the children. Nevertheless, experience has shown that a lot of the children who stay at home for eight weeks with no intellectual activity fall shot in their academic works when the new session resumes. So, what is the way out? Find out from the reports below:


Summer Holiday Is Time To Nurture Children’s Talents At Creative Stations, Say Stakeholders
By Omiko Awa
Hurrah! It is another holiday period… no more teachers’ cane, no more schoolwork … no more morning rush … some students would say. These students would want to be left alone for them to play and play all through the holidays. But, is this the best for them at this time, some parents would ask?

While some parents would enroll their children in summer coaching, generally referred to as ‘holiday lesson’ as a way of making them keep tracks on their studies, others believe school holidays should be a period for students, especially those in their teens, to learn new things outside the classroom. They believe it is time to acquire skills that could help them in their adult life from an informal setting.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of ArtsBeat Concept, Olayiwola Awakan, children should be given the privilege to learn new things like dancing, music, drama, singing and drawing, among others, during the long vacation period. He noted that these art forms bring out the raw talents of participants and also make them to perform better when they get back to school.

Awakan, who mentors children and youths, noted that summer coaching classes make learning monotonous as the children are made to do what they had been doing all over again, adding if proper attention is paid to it, parents would discover that their children are not really measuring up as expected. He disclosed that this retrogressive form of learning has not only contributed to the nation’s backwardness, but has also prevented many young people from developing their talents at tender age.

The ArtsBeat Concept headman noted that days are gone when people see those in the arts as never-do-wells, adding that the sector has a lot of prospect.

“Looking around us today, we can see kids doing well in the various art forms, be it entertainment, writing, drawing to other forms of show business. These young entertainers combine show business with their studies and they still excel. Some of them are worth millions of naira aside their artworks lasting their lifetime.

“We cannot all be medical doctors, engineers or lawyers and to avoid this boredom some have to be in the arts. Art is life because it adds spice to life. So, we have to catch them young and one of the ways to do this is through the creative stations,” he said.

Former Director of Drama, National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN) and also Children’s Creative Station project coordinator, Josephine Igberaese, said children’s creative station aims at encouraging and nurturing talents in children and youths, who otherwise may not have the avenue to develop their talents outside the school system. She disclosed that the project was mainly on creativity, knowing too well that many schools only teach the theory and do not have the manpower that would enable them carry out practical session with the children.

She said: “We are creative in all sense of creativity — theatre, puppetry, music, writing, drama, dance as well as painting. It is an open world that allows you to be creative; it goes beyond acting. There are professionals that take participants on creative writing because some of them may end up being playwrights. We have done choreography, which is a contemporary dance; we have also done traditional dance, hip-hop and others. We look at participant’s talent and build on it.”

Igberaese revealed that the station opens up participants to new things outside their studies, as one cannot tell if any of them may develop interest in any of the art forms and eke out a living from it.

The Creative Director, ArtsXII Music and Entertainment Company, Phebean Tosyn Oluwadare, believes there is time for everything. According to her, parents should allow their children to participate in creative stations, adding that doing so does not mean the children would end up being an artist(e)s, but rather would open their minds to learning new things that would complement their schoolwork.

Phebean, a saxist, noted that playing music helps to enhance children’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and their ability to perform better in numerical subjects as well. She noted that creative stations structure their schemes to reflect what is obtainable in their environment, teach participants contemporary things that would make them relevant to their environment.

“It is not like a structured school, but rather a workshop that would make participants to think out the box. It builds in the child the ability to think out things, which is the reason different genres of the art — poetry, music, dance, tye and dye to playing musical instruments — are taught.

“Creative stations enable participants develop social connection, confidence among peers and better approach to learning any subject. They also give children an edge when seeking admission into universities because of the extra skills and talent they have acquired during summer camp. In a whole, the various creative stations make participants develop the ability to multitask and explore different professions or career,” she said.

For Henry Otikpe, who always looks forward to enrolling his children in any of the creative stations near his house, life is dynamic and parents should understand this. He revealed that he wants his children to be versatile and as such has to make them do other things outside their schoolwork, especially during the summer holidays. He disclosed that the music and performance skills which his second son exhibits was as a result of his participation in creative station workshops, adding that in few months the boy would be among the kid artistes in the country.

Otikpe urged parents to change their views on making their children to always read, saying it is good to be studious, but it pays to combine reading with acquiring skills, especially when such skills complement learning.

He noted that Nigeria and the global economy has become skill based, stating that with Nigeria’s rising population only those with skills would be able to make a living in future.

We Use Summer Holiday To Develop Skills In Different Sports, Students Admit
By Chuks Nwanne and Maria Diamond

Though the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, is usually beehive of sporting activities, especially on Saturday mornings, a recent visit shows that young school children have taken over the facility as a result of the long vacation.

Right from the main entrance till the main bowl, young people dotted the entire premises with coaches and instructors, trying their hands in one sporting activity or the other. From skating to cycling, football, taekwondo, volleyball, basketball, handball, swimming, power lifting… there were variety of activities for young people, who are taking advantage of the long vacation to hone their sporting skills.

“We daddy used to bring me here on Saturdays to do staking, but since the holiday started, we now come here morning. I’m not yet good on it, but there’s great improvement now,” Sandra, an amateur skater said, as she rolled off.

At the lawn tennis court, Braimo Musa, a professional players and instructor for New Vision Sports Development was seen taking children on the rudiments of tennis. Musa, who has his children with the team, spent his professional career in Germany before retuning to Nigeria to help develop talents.

“What we do is to look for talented ones and bring them to tennis; we’ve been doing this since 1991. We try to have this programme during holiday time, like we are doing now. Sport is very important to students; it keeps them healthy and makes their brain active. All my life, I’ve been a sports person; I left primary school for tennis and I’ve ben playing till date,” he said.

His daughter, she seems to be picking up fast in the game, named Serena Williams as her role model.

“She’s very active and a very good player; I want to be like her. My dad is a coach, so, he trains us; he wants us to play basketball. Personally, during holidays, I prefer to come and play lawn tennis instead of going back to school for holiday class.”

The basketball court was hyper active with young players of the Raptors Basketball Team participating in a two-day clinic facilitated by Olamilekan Adetunji (Spider), a Nigerian professional playing in the United States.

“Actually, I’ve been motivated over the years by some top Nigerian players; I’ve been to Olumide Oyedeji Camp and several others. Those camps motivated me because those guys did their best to give back to the society. So, I thought to myself that, if I can get something going to give back to my community, I would like to take the opportunity.”

To Spider, there’s need for Nigeria to inculcate sports in school activities.

“Over there in the United States, there’s always camps and that’s where most kinds can focus more on their skills. Some kids take summer classes, but after one or two classes, you have time to do sports. I grew up playing football; almost every kid played football, there’s always open field to play. But what we lack is the basketball part of it and other sports. If the government can provide facilities in school, kids can pick interest by just seeing those things around. I started playing basketball nine years ago; before then, I had never touched a basketball.”

For Chidi Uyelumo, another US-based player, who came to support the camp, sports has become a bid deal globally.

“If they could incorporate that in school here, that will be really good. It’s good to start doing sports when you are young; it’s easy to learn when you are young. I think Nigeria should do a better job by encouraging kids to do sports. Here, I know it’s all about school and academic works, but sports help in a broad way; it teaches you team work, it teaches you how to persevere.”

Charles Ibeziakor, coach of Raptors Basketball Academy, who underscored the importance of sports in child development said, “The purpose of this academy is not only to come and play basketball; we encourage people to go and study and play basketball in America. A lot of young people have benefitted from this programme; we have over 470 boys and girls going to school and playing basketball.”

He continued: “Before now, a lot of parents used to think that sports is for school dropouts. Today, that has changed; they’ve seen what is going on in the world. During the summer time, I keep on getting children to come train with us; parents are supporting now. However, we still have a percentage of parents, who still send their children to school during holiday. For real, if you are not smart, you can’t play basketball. If you want to play basketball in the US, you must be educated; you must be good in the classroom,” he said.

Some children, who don’t have the opportunity to make it to the National Stadium are also not left out. Joseph Ebubechukwu, 14-year-old student of Grace Foundation International, Ilamoshe, who has passion for basketball said: “Summer holiday is my favourite season. It is the only season my parents allow me to fully participate in the game, and fortunately for me, my school has a basketball court with necessary equipment to play the game. Although we play the game sometimes during break time when the school is in session, but we are restricted due to our regular school curriculum. However, for this summer holiday, my school scheduled a one-hour playing time for basketball and another one hour for table tennis. I play table tennis too, but I am more passionate about basketball, which is why I am keen about it.

“I wish I had special practice time on a daily basis, even when school is in session. But my parents won’t have that. So, I’m hoping to learn the skills and master them to the best of my capacity pending when I grow older and gain admission into the university. Then I can dedicate sufficient time into the game, because I want to play professional basketball and I see myself becoming a basketball pro,” he said.

Daniel Amadi is a 13-year old student of Seed of Messiah College, Ilamoshe, with a special interest in long tennis. He is also determined to develop his skills in the game. He said: “We have a coach who teaches us the rhythm of the game, and I love it, because its makes me very calculative. Meaning, I have to pay optimum attention to the game as a second of distraction implies missing the shot.

“My school has dedicated this summer vacation to skill acquisition and everyone gets to participate in desired skill. For me, it’s long tennis; our coach has given team members creative directives and this has helped me master the drill so well, that I even play the game in my mind. I want to become a Medical Doctor and I believe the game helps me in terms of focus but more importantly the game makes me feel fulfilled from within, especially because my coach says I play better than my teammates.”


“Last weekend, my mum suggested that I spend the summer holiday with my aunty in Port Harcourt, but because I don’t want to miss the chance to play the game and get better at it, I declined. So yes, I love this summer holiday because of the game,” she said.

Joshua Olatoun is a 14-year-old student of Olorunfunmi Grammar School, Idimu, who was displaying his football skills alongside his friends on the street.

Olatoun told The Guardian that his school did not make provision for sporting activities or skills acquisition during this holiday. “I used to stay home idle throughout the holiday period. But this time, I decided that my friends and I should play football on the street since we are not going for summer classes or games of any sort.

“Although what we are doing is not well coordinated, but for us, it is everything. The game gets us busy instead of wandering away, and it is also very interesting because a lot of us try to practice certain skills learnt from watching professional football on television. I wish I was as privileged as some of my age mates who attend these big private schools where sporting facilities are provided with a coach to teach one the skills in different sports,” he said.


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