Combating coronavirus: Virtual summer camps for kids in UAE gain momentum this year

YSkool will conduct live interactive classes in 50 plus programmes for children in the age group of four to 18 years

  
A young man sitting on sofa with mobile phone and laptop at home. Image used for illustrative purpose.

A young man sitting on sofa with mobile phone and laptop at home. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Summer holidays are here and with Covid-19 threat still looming large, a number of schools, institutes and organistions have planned "virtual summer camps" to keep children engaged during their vacations.

From fun activities such as learning music, dance, art, photography, application development, machine learning to youth empowerment programmes, yoga, emotional intelligence, meditation, social skills, a number of online summer camps are being offered to help children stay busy and productive during their vacations.

YSkool (yskool.com), under Yardstick Educational Initiatives, will conduct live interactive classes in 50 plus programmes for children in the age group of four to 18 years. These programmes include yoga, wellbeing, entrepreneurship, STEM, coding, programming (Java, Python, C++), web development, dance, music, computer animation, Android app development, photography, machine learning, game design, guitar, piano and learning languages (French, German, Spanish).

De Paul Kannamthanam, executive director, Yardstick Educational Initiatives said that each of the programme is 25 to 30 hours and are available in morning and evening sessions. "We believe that the interests, passion and wellbeing of students are equally important as their academic performance. YSkool is a platform that brings together all the interest areas of students under one umbrella, where students can pursue their interests and socialise with children of similar interests online. All these can be done safely from home," Kannamthanam said.

Organising a technology-based summer camp for kids across three different age groups - eight to 10, 11 to 13, and 14+ - Vidya Nair, co-founder of Penrose Learning, said: "With most kids indoors during the summer break, a fun learning experience combined with algorithmic and high-order problem-solving skills will provide children with tremendous benefits.

"We are looking to introduce children to Python Programming in a structured manner, which will enable them to be creators of technology rather than just users of it. Children will also get to build exciting games and design web applications from scratch. Children above 14 are introduced to fun statistics, data science, and machine learning with an exciting project focused approach resembling real-world problems. Our camps will begin from early July and go on till August 27, happening on Sundays to Thursdays between 10am to 1pm," Nair said.

Dubai's Gulf Model School is offering its students free online science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workshops that will be accompanied by competition and awards for students and teachers.

"STEM workshops are integrated into math and science curriculum which will be beneficial for the students when the school reopens. The school is also offering a variety of edutainment activities online such as public speaking, music, multimedia and other holistic activities and will also be offering daily free Quran classes to all students from Grades 1 to 10 to help them imbibe Islamic values and also recite verses with the right pronunciation," said Annie Mathew, principal of the school.

"This summer break is rather an unusual one for our children. Most of them may not be travelling out of the country and their outings within the country too may be curtailed as parents will try to avoid visiting public places. In such a scenario, we thought it best to hold a virtual summer camp for our students at minimal cost to keep the children creatively engaged and to keep the learning ongoing," she added.

Wellbeing lessons prioritised at most virtual camps

An innovative method launched by the Dubai-based Art of Living (AOL) Foundation is to engage not only children but also the entire family. Their programmes for teenagers include meditation and breathing techniques to combat stress, immunity-boosting lessons, group discussions on teen-related issues and sessions on strengthening the parent-child bond.

"Apart from wellness life skills, we will also be teaching children eye exercises, intuitive thinking techniques where they can explore their creative side, improve focus levels, keep minds fresh, especially during these tough times of Covid-19 pandemic when many of them are anxious or spending too much time online. We will begin with a three-day online workshop from July 3, then another 10-day summer camp for teenagers from July 9 where they will learn to conquer mental barriers, experience the joy of volunteering," said Raksha Patel, AOL faculty.

Addressing the 'emotional gap' in children, UV Consultants is conducting programmes to improve the students' assertiveness, problem-solving and decision-making skills, taming anger and anxieties, coping with peer pressure and handling difficult situations.

Uma Radhakrishnan, managing director of UV Consultants, said the sessions would be conducted every Saturday from 9am to 11am in July and August and would include experiential activities like role-plays, interactive group discussions on real-life scenarios, audio-visual media and neuro linguistic programming (NLP) tools and techniques.

"Our focus will be students aged 10 to 16 years and the programmes will be customised according to the participant's level of understanding. Our programmes seek to empower our youth with both emotional and intellectual development thereby helping them in making the right choices and overcoming fears and self-limiting beliefs," she said.

What online summer camps are offering for kids

> Immunity-boosting lessons

> Intuitive thinking techniques

> Joy of volunteering

> Yoga and wellbeing

> Entrepreneurship

> STEM skills

> Coding and programming

> Web development

> Dance and music

> Computer animation

> Android app development

> Machine learning

> Game design

> Languages

> Problem-solving and decision-making skills

> Taming anger and anxieties

> Coping with peer pressure

> Audio-visual media

> Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) tools and techniques

> Quran classes

saman@khaleejtimes.com

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