Written by Wong Tin Yan
Photo by PMQ
Translation by Derek Leung
Many parents feel relieved after summer as they need not worry again about arranging extra-curricular activities for their kids since lessons resume. Surprisingly interestingly, the summer holiday is nothing but another schooling period at “new places” when I, an art educator with some 10-year experience, see the change from the enrolment in a few interest groups to the application for a fortnight-long study tour, followed by daily attendance at a summer school during the sweltering hot days.
Summer is indeed the long holiday for children to relax without pressure from school and to recapture their motivation to learn, in another word to tap into their curiosity.
Newborns already see through their small eyes the colorful world with great suspicion and curiosity. Apart from observation, exploration works from moving the palate, touching, hearing and smelling, to babbling and asking "Why? Why?" incessantly. At that particular time, their capability of learning may be the strongest because their endless curiosity is the driving force. Unfortunately, countless rules and assessments at school soon put their curiosity into erosion and exhaustion. Curiosity? Who cares? Go study first! But if we even let go of the curiosity during summer, when can we have it back?
Great discoveries and inventions have always resulted from observation of Nature. It is a pity everything made by God is always missed when our Hong Kong children grow up from nowhere but air-conditioned shopping malls.
Therefore, in the programme "Island & Tree; City & Wood" of "Summer Microadventures" earlier co-organized with PMQ, I brought the parents and their children to Lamma and had them led by an environmental tour group called "Lamma Corner" to identify and appreciate the plants on the island so as to awaken the kids' curiosity when they are on the one hand enjoying the sun outdoors and on the other hand being encouraged by their participating parents.
While the vivid presentation of elephant-ear-shaped leaves of Macaranga, the entangling branches of Chinese Banyan, as well as the full-grown fruits of papaya and bananas up on the trees aroused countless questions from children, the parents were informed of some new ideas even about some popular trees. Despite the breakout of running sweats, the children enjoyed the trip with curiosity in an environment full of laughter and natural beauty. Dare anyone say tablets and cellphones are their only favourites?
The saying of “Example is better than precept” goes like a cliché but is always a maxim for life.
While animals also learn from their parents how to survive, if adults can lower their self-esteem and consider themselves the participants rather than the servants to have fun with their children in the parenting classes, they must be the children's companions and able to join them to understand the world through observation, discovery, discussion and practice. This not only strengthens the parent-child bonding but also gives an idea to the children that their parents are also as curious as they are.
Contrary to the common warnings including "Watch out!", "No!" and "Hey, stop it!", the action of asking "Why?" from the parents followed by digging out the answers jointly with their kids is a positive outcome resulting from spending time and gaining experiences together which is incomparable with a full schedule of tuition classes.
About Writer: Wong Tin-yan graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, Chinese University. He specializes in using junk woods to craft sculptures of cartoon animals. His works have been exhibited by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and he’s been approached by major international brands for collaborative projects. He has also been engaged in arts education over the past decade.