When summer costs a lot: Parents shell out on children’s summer programmes

Wednesday, 2018-06-13 10:05:17
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Children trying their hands at making cakes at a cooking class (Photo: VN+)
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NDO – Many parents in big cities are willing to shell out an astonishing amount of millions or even tens of millions of Vietnamese dongs to keep their kids entertained over the three-month summer break and prevent them from locking themselves away in a closed room with television, smartphones and tablet computers.

Designed to meet parents’ needs, numerous summer activities and programmes with a wide range of content and pricing have been launched even before the end of the academic term.

Not only providing children with life skills at a cost of several millions of Vietnamese dongs, the centres also offer assorted options for children to experience during summer, from visiting rural areas to learn how to tend cows and cut grass, to going to pagodas and learning about Zen and Buddha’s teachings.

English-language centres also take the opportunity to organise half-day course, in which students spend tens of millions of Vietnamese dongs to learn English under the instruction of native speakers. Students are also invited to join study tours abroad, which costs them up to hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dongs.

Last summer, Nguyen Mai Phuong from Cau Giay district in Hanoi, spent approximately VND7 million to send her playful son to a military summer camp in the hope that he would be trained to be more disciplined and well-ordered. However, while the boy behaved as his mom hoped for a few days after the one-month course, soon after everything became the same as ever.

As the semester has just concluded, she is struggling to find other solutions to the summer vacation problem.

She said that her son’s English centre had recently sent a notification about a month-long summer camp at which students can learn English while enjoying field trips. However, she has found herself priced out of such camps, often costing more than VND 30 million.

Meanwhile, Hoang Quynh Anh from Hoang Mai district, Hanoi, is seeking courses on survivor skills for her two daughters, both elementary school students. After an initial search, she found that it was not easy to find such courses at affordable prices, as a one-month course of its kind may cost her from VND8 million – VND 10 million.

In addition to English and survivor skill courses, many international schools have offered trips abroad to the UK, Singapore, France and Japan. According to their flowery ads, participating students can improve their language skills while exploring the culture of the host country. However, the courses often target rich kids because of their eye-watering expense between VND50 million and VND100 million.

According to educational experts, it is necessary for children to attend summer courses, which are designed to equip them with life experience and practical skills. However, parents should make wise decisions in sending their children to the right centres to prevent wasting money on poor results.

Tran Thu Trang from Cau Giay district in Hanoi recalled last summer when she spent VND50 million for her daughter’s international summer camp. When returning home, her daughter said that although the advertisement stated that participants would have a chance to exchange with students of a school of the host country, she and her friends were only allowed to visit the school. And throughout a week of visiting several places in the host country the accommodation was not as comfortable as she expected.

Trang learnt a lesson that before shelling out for a summer course, parents should thoroughly research the course and check for feedback from those parents whose children had joined the event before in order to avoid being trapped into misleading advertisements.

Dr. Nguyen Tung Lam, Chairman of Hanoi Association of Psychology and Education, stressed that parents should understand their children’s capacity in order to identify a suitable course and maximise the effectiveness of the course for their children.

Parents should not anticipate that their children will turn into the one they expect, he said, explaining that positive change is brought about by long-term practice with the involvement of school, parents, and family.

Elementary teacher Nguyen Thi Huong from Dong Anh district in Hanoi suggested that parents listen to their child’s opinions to avoid forcing children do what parents want rather than what children really like.

Children have to acquire many branches of knowledge throughout their school year, and summer is the only time for them to relax and revive their energy, thus they should be asked what they are keenly interested in doing during summer break.