VietNamNet Bridge – While many parents send their children to extra classes during the summer holiday, others send their children to the countryside, where they believe the children can have a good time and return to school fresh and full of energy. Not every child is happy about that.
Encounters with nature…
Children in Hai Luu, Lap Thach district in Vinh Phuc province are fishing for small fish for their game-cocks
Every summer, Bich Van sends all three of her children from Hanoi to Nghe An province, where they stay with their grandparents, living ‘near to nature’.
Van related that all the three children return home sturdy, with suntanned skin, after a month’s holiday in the countryside.
Dinh Thang, who also believes that children should not be stuffed with lessons in summer, has sent his children to the countryside too. “Every day, they follow their cousins, running barefoot through the village,” Thang said. “In the countryside, they will learn a lot of things which they cannot read in books.”
Hue, a primary school teacher, said: “I like bringing our children to the countryside. They always ask their grandfather to take them to the fields to see how the cows graze”.
Sending children to the countryside is now considered to be a way of ‘taking children back to nature.’ With this experience, the youngsters will have better knowledge of the living environment, and a higher interest in it. The fresh air in the countryside is good for children’s health.
“Nature proves to be the greatest teacher. From it, children learn humanity” said Dr Nguyen Le Hang from the Vietnam Education Science Institute. Hang is a researcher and mother who has been trying to teaching her children to live with nature since they were small..
Every weekend, Hang related, she takes her youngest daughter to a little farm in Bac Ninh province, where the girl plants seeds, picks vegetables, takes care of animals and watches how insects live. “When a child understands about the life of a bug, it will know how to value even a small life. Watching a tree grow up, feeling the wind, the sunshine, experiencing the change of seasons, the soul of a child will grow milder and kinder,” she said.
In summer, Hue always takes her children to the seaside or the forest. “When children are released into a natural setting, they will have the chance to walk barefoot, a very enjoyable thing that they cannot do in the cities,” she said. “You will not see the results immediately, but you will see this later, when the children grow up and have good characters”.
Its different in the country . . .
Sometimes, things do not go as smoothly as parents hope. Within a few days of going to the country, Bich Van’s son Tho was upset because he could not get used to life in the countryside.
Tho’s grandmother called him from bed ‘too early’ in the morning. He had to have two bowls of rice at every meal, though at home his mother only required him to finish one. Though Tho had many cousins in the village to play with, still Tho felt out of place. Upset, Tho asked to go home because he “missed his parents.”
Another Hanoi father, Phan Anh, related that after a summer holiday, an awkward situation developed. His two children said they ‘hated’ their grandparents because the grandparents set a busy and rigid schedule for them to follow every day.
The children of Dinh Thang told him that it was really ‘sad’ in the countryside. They could not eat fried chicken, pizza or ice cream like at the Italian restaurant where their father took them every week in the city.
Meanwhile, Mai Anh related that her child would not stay in the countryside for more than two days, complaining that it is dirty there and that there are too many mosquitoes.
Duong Thi Quynh Hoa, a psychologist, says that it is quite normal to see children afraid of living in the countryside. A sudden change of the living environment is always difficult at first. Especially small children have physical and emotional needs. Used to life in the city, lots of houses and traffic, when they are suddenly transported into the deserted, tree-filled countryside, many children are scared of ‘ghosts.’ They are afraid to go out to the street, afraid to use the WC, afraid they will get dirty . . . .
Parents should pay attention to these natural fears, Hoa says. If they don’t help to relieve them, of course the children will be uncomfortable. Then, if they have a disagreeable experience at grandpa and grandma’s, of course the children will plead to come home.
She has learned from experience that parents should stimulate their children’s interest, Hoa adds. Before taking them to the country, they can quiz the children about life in the the villages and the people they will meet there. They can show them pictures and explain the things and people that their children may meet when living in the countryside.
The children need to expect that life in the country is different. They need to know how to use bug repellent to keep away mosquitos, and to be careful if they play by a river or lake.
In general, Dr Hang says, every child must change some urban habits in order to feel at home in the countryside – that’s not easy and will take them some time.
Parents that aren’t able to take their children to the countryside can at least start a garden at their own homes, so that the youngsters get some experience growing plants and flowers, taking care of pets. On days off, parents can take the children to parks full of green stuff and teach them how to observe and appreciate living things.
But the best summer holiday of all, says Dr. Hang, is going to the countryside – a place where youngsters can submerge themselves in nature and fill their young lives with new experiences. “That’s not so hard,” she concludes, “if parents will take a little time from work to focus on providing their children an ideal summer.”