In a few weeks, school will be out for the summer break and students will have more time to play, take on new hobbies or just relax by the pool.
As schools wrap up the academic year, the daily routine – especially in terms of eating, playing and learning – changes among students.
Educators have often reminded parents to keep a healthy routine for their kids over the summer break, so they can be fully ready for the fall semester and avoid any problems.
While some summers can be educational with loads of travelling, others can be lazy – crashing on the couch for long hours, using digital devices all day long, and snacking on excessive amounts of junk food.
The hot temperatures can also be a health risk factor, especially if the kids are doing outdoor activities for consecutive hours. Hydration, sunscreens, and light clothing have always been recommended by doctors.
Several children and teachers wrote to Khaleej Times on how they plan to stay healthy over the summer period and provided some helpful tips.
Keep screen time in check
(Kelvin Hornsby, Vice-president, GEMS Cambridge Brand Leader, CEO and Principal, GEMS Cambridge International School Abu Dhabi)
As the eight-week summer break is fast approaching it is important that parents and children maintain all of the great work carried out during the school year.
Routine is key in ensuring that children have good sleep habits and that a healthy choice around diet is made. Research shows that children aged between six and 17 years need eight to 11 hours of sleep per night. Sleep patterns will change over the summer break. It is essential that electronic devices are handed in and late-night TV and staying up to play games are avoided, with daily screen time being monitored.
The healthy choice concerning diet will help avoid junk food, sweets and crisps. Parents should think about healthy alternatives and make sure that children do not skip breakfast. Cooking together as a family, making healthy snacks or even your own ice cream are great ways to engage children in making the right choice.
Exercise for the brain and body will help mental and physical development. Planning your day around your child’s hobbies can engage them in reading and wider learning. Reading new books can inspire creativity and imagination and TV can be educational. Spending time participating in sport is really fun and children can meet up with friends and make new ones, while getting sporty as a family will also enable quality time together.
7 ways to keep yourself cool and have fun under the sun
Dr Heena Rachh (Principal, Global Indian International School, Abu Dhabi)
Summers are filled with endless relaxation, and playtimes are what children look forward to the most each year. With the blazing sun, rising temperatures and warm breezes, the weather cannot be controlled but it is very important for students to stay cool and beat the heat during the summer and keep the fun going.
>Beat the heat
Apply sunscreen with SPF 30. Scheduling outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon is essential since the UV rays between 11am and 3pm are the strongest.
Drink more than eight glasses per day. Frequent water breaks are necessary during playtime to prevent dehydration. Opt for snacks with high water content, such as watermelon, tomatoes and cucumbers.
>Eat healthy meals and snacks
Getting the right nutrients will keep one healthy and in good shape. It is important to pay attention to what, how much, and how often we eat. Ensure the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables with each meal as well. Smoothies are a great way to include fruit and vegetables in a summer diet.
Switch off the TV and any electronic devices and encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. Try to get some exercise in the morning. Set a time every day when you all take a walk, ride bikes, play tag in the backyard, jump rope, play soccer, dance, or swim. It all adds to the 60 minutes of activity that kids need daily – no matter what season it is.
>Master water safety
Water-related activities are a great way of adding some physical activity to one’s day, however, we need to take caution while splashing around. Teaching children how to swim or signing them up for formal lessons not only protects them but also teaches them a great way to be physically active.
>Find a new routine
Do some gardening together or visit a farmer’s market to pick from all the in-season produce. Let them choose tomatoes, melons or peppers, and then whip up dinner together. Research has shown that kids who learn how to grow and cook their own food eat more fruits and vegetables.
>Keep a schedule
As students prefer staying indoors, activities like reading and writing can be encouraged. Kids can be encouraged to write and blog during the summer. They can also gain self-confidence and self-esteem by participating in community activities. Sticking to a routine will keep children on track and make the transition back to school easier.
Students Speak about how they plan to stay fit
1-Stay active, even when indoors
(Aekuss Singh Lamba, The Sheffield Private School, Dubai)
With the scorching summer heat, it becomes difficult to engage in an outdoor fitness routine but it’s not an excuse to avoid physical activities altogether.
My father and I, for example, book sessions at Dubai Sports World (DSW), the spacious seasonal sports venue at Dubai World Trade Centre. Cricket nets and table tennis venues are my favourites at DSW. Indoor summer camps for karate would continue. I am also looking forward to improving my swimming skills in a cool way this summer. Another key factor to good health is a proper diet. I plan to spend some time in the kitchen and prepare fresh, yummy fruit salads. Baking is another interesting way to stay healthy, as well as squeezing oranges to make some refreshing orange juice. I also believe that daily exercise and a nutritious diet need to be supplemented with adequate rest. So, I plan to stick to my usual bedtime routine.
2-Watch what you eat
(Hritika Tripathi, Delhi Private School, Sharjah)
For me, summer vacation means freedom from homework and the rush to catch the bus. Bedtime, meal planning, and TV rules sometimes go on ‘vacation mode’, too. But this carefree season isn’t always good for our health.
Too much of a break can lead to unhealthy changes. In fact, we tend to gain weight faster during the summer.
During this vacation, we should focus on food. If we go to a summer camp, our bag should be filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein – not sweetened drinks and other junk. We should also put a little rhythm into our lazy summer days with educational and physical activities, like going to libraries or a local park. A daily schedule could mean less screen time and less unhealthy snacking.
3-Drink lots of water
(Afrah Noor, New Indian Model School, Dubai)
One of the best ways to stay healthy during summer is to always be hydrate. I drink plenty of water, and when I need a sip of other cold drinks, I choose fresh juices. Plan gatherings with family and friends and remember to include activities that will spread laughter all around. In terms of food, we should add more fruits and vegetables to our diet and try to avoid heavy meals. We need to get enough sleep, too, and think happy thoughts all summer.
4-Sunscreen, cold showers are a must
(Bhavya Suresh, New Indian Model School, Dubai)
Summer is here and the temperature seems to be rising every day. While we cannot control the temperature outside, we can make sure that we are doing all that we can to stay safe and healthy. The harsh climate can drain our energy, making us prone to infections and triggering other health conditions – so we need to make some adjustments to our routines. First, we need to eat healthy and light, and stay indoors during those hours when the sun is at its peak. But if going out cannot be avoided, I make sure that I have applied some sunscreen. Cold showers can help us beat the heat, too.