Festive season is over. Primary Seven, Senior Four and Senior Six candidates still have a long holiday. Most are free from class-related work and engage in activities they had been restrained from at school. Some students spend this period visiting people they have been missing whereas others go for parties.
Sometimes such holidays ruin lives of some students. For instance, Diana Namukasa was excited upon completing her Senior Six exams in 2012. She used to leave home from morning and return at will. Namukasa fell pregnant before joining university. Unfortunately, she could not trace the person responsible for her pregnancy as she engaged in multiple relationships.
“They all denied responsibility and my mother supported me for the nine months and she still helps to raise my child,” she says. Namukasa became a single mother and her university dreams were shattered.
Another devastating holiday scenario was the two children who were kidnapped from their home in Kawala, Rubaga Division and sacrificed in Lubiigi river. The kidnappers targeted the children when they were alone at home in the afternoon hours. Old Kampala DPC, Charles Nsaba, who embarked on tracing the killers of the innocent children warned parents against leaving children alone and idle.
To avoid such, Shallon Mbabazi a counsellor, says long holidays are a good time for parents to bond with their children who have been separated by the school programme. Mbabazi says parents should always plan for holidays to avoid last minute decisions.
“You should think of what your child would do in vacation the moment she joins a candidate class. Have a plan of what she will be engaged in purposely to widen her reasoning but also help her acquire survival skills,” she adds.
Their circles matter
She warns that parental negligence of any sort during holidays could ruin the child’s future or endanger their life. To protect children during vacation, Mbabazi highlights that parents should be involved in their movements and activities. Give them work that keeps them busy but you should also understand their social circles.
“The reason why you should know your child’s friends is because many fall victim of peer influence. Your child could become a drunkard or a drug user because that is what their friends do. You should know the conduct of your child’s friends,” Mbabazi cautions.
Get them reading
Children can be kept busy by reading age-appropriate books. “Reading is one of the ways children can be kept busy in holidays. Do not buy books that are too mature for their age. Avoid books that have scary stories because they can negatively impact the child,” Mbabazi says.
Get them business
Evelyn Olivia Nabunya, a teacher, says long holidays can be an opportunity for parents to teach or involve children in their businesses. She says if you are a dealer in snacks you should use holidays to teach children how to make snacks because they need that knowledge.
“Parents should try to involve children in their businesses. You should teach children how to run a small business such as making snacks because those skills may be helpful for their own survival in the future,” Nabunya adds.
Nabunya says she was able to raise her tuition because she was taught how to make pancakes, samosas and cassava snacks. This, she would do during holidays. “I couldn’t have become a teacher if my parents had not taught me business skills when I was young. I made tuition from selling snacks and this kept me busy. Whether you are rich or not you should equip your child with survival skills because you are not sure whether they will complete school when you are still alive,” Nabunya challenges. By the time the student completes long holidays, they will have got skills to earn upkeep.
Evas Ainomugisha, police spokesperson for the health directorate, says parents can protect children during holidays by leaving them with people they trust. “When I talk of a person you trust I mean a person whose characters are good. If a man has ever been involved in criminal activities then he should not associate with your children,” Ainomugisha says.
Ainomugisha adds that parents should make sure their children are occupied to avoid the old adage “idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” For the stay home children, parents should control TV channels may be by not subscribing to some channels because some children practice what they watch on television.
“Students in holidays should be watchful of strangers and not take everyone for granted. Parents should have time with their parents. Parents and students should have area police contacts in case they get any problem they can contact for police assistance,” Ainomugisha says.