Children’s camps, interactive kids-only sessions, learning through playing games – all of these were, even half a decade back, viewed as part of the ‘Western culture.’ More recently though, India has been waking up to such events and programs. If you look at the newspaper, or better still, browse through daily local event listings on the web, you will come across many seemingly nice kids’ events. While there is no dearth of alternative events to attend, parents often find themselves in a dilemma as to which event should they pick for their children. Here are a few tips that should help you in this:
- Choose an event happening in your proximity – You live in the interiors of North Kolkata, and pick an event happening at Park Street for your child to attend. Not a particularly smart idea – especially if parents are not allowed to stay while the event is on. It is much more advisable to choose from the events that are happening in your locality (don’t worry, kids’ events are regular weekend features at most malls and other posh locations). Dropping off and picking up your li’l one from the place will be a lot easier.
- Choose an event scheduled at a known venue – Good events for kids require the backing of a strong organizer. In Kolkata, many small, obscure montessori schools have also started arranging such functions for children (for their own students, as well as kids from other schools). Remember, if a kid’s event has been scheduled to be held at a hard-to-find place that you haven’t even heard of earlier – chances are high that the organizer(s) have not been able to afford a better venue. You cannot expect the program itinerary at such low-key events to be of very high quality either.
- Do not miss out on events at your ward’s schools – Academic brilliance should always go hand-in-hand with social skills. Find out from the authorities of the school your son/daughter attends (in case (s)he does not tell you on his/her own) about the events and cultural programs that would be organized there over the next few weeks. Encourage your child to attend each of them. Kids who are by nature introvert tend to stay away from such exposure – and the onus is on parents to help them open up.
- Choose events that are safe – Nopes, we are not suggesting that goons and criminals also organize children’s events in Kolkata! ‘Safety’, in this context, means something completely different. Inquire at the venue about how the organizers plan to take care of the attending kids, and make sure that there are indeed no chances of a child slipping away unnoticed. There are events (albeit rare) that involve encouraging kids perform dangerous stunts and potentially problematic dance moves. Stay well away from them.
- Choose events that have balanced, interesting lineup of activities – A kids’ event goes on for 5-6 hours on average (there are day-long events too). Unless the itinerary of activities manages to engage your child, (s)he will get bored soon – and the main purpose of bringing him/her to the event would be defeated. Pick events that include digital storytelling sessions, interactive fun periods, quizzes, origami and such interesting activities. If your child has a knack for creativity, search for painting/drawing/singing/dancing competitions – where you can register him/her.
- Choose events where refreshments are not provided – Barring a few exceptions here and there, the snacks served to kids during these events are of the fast food variety. Hygiene is not really at the forefront of the considerations of the organizers. Certain types of food might also be unsuitable for your kid – but the li’l darling might nevertheless have it (stomach aches in a couple of hours, sick leave from school the day after – these would be the likely consequences). Instead, if there were no provisions of meals during these kids’ events, you would not have to worry about what your son/daughter is eating. Give him/her a water bottle and his/her own tiffin box (the latter is necessary only if an event goes on for several hours).
- Choose events that foster two-way communication – Attending events is all about developing strong social/interpersonal skills in a kid. If you pick an event where all that your child will have to do is remain seated for hours (as someone gives a lecture, shows a magic trick, or shows how to read books online), it would be an exercise in futility. The best kids’ events across the world have one common feature – they allow the li’l attendees to express themselves, interact with each other in a disciplined manner (read: no fightings!), and get involved with the event proceedings. Remember a kids’ event and a classroom are two entirely different things!
- Choose events that motivate participants to excel – Most children get excited at the prospect of winning awards and prizes. An event that has competitions and contests, with token prizes on offer (pens, kids’ storybooks, show pieces, cards, etc.) would be just ideal to get the competitive juices of your son/daughter flowing. The prizes that will be distributed should not be anything too flash. Simply participating in such contests would excite children, and if your little one manages to win a couple of prizes…nothing like it!
- Choose events where participation certificates are issued – This one is important. If your child regularly attends interactive events, functions and programs – there should be some written proof of that. Find out whether the event(s) you have shortlisted for your child will be providing valid participation certificates. During interviews at the top schools in Kolkata, showcasing these certificates can give a push to the chances of your kid getting selected.
- Choose events that offer multiple time-slots – You need not compromise with your own convenience, to accompany your kid to children’s events. Carefully browsing through event listings in the city would help you come across many kids’ camps and functions, that have multiple time-slot options. Pick the slot that would be the most convenient for you. Most events for children are organized over weekends, ensuring that you won’t have to skip office to accompany your child.
- Choose events where there will be plenty of attendees – In all likelihood, you will not be allowed to stay at the venue when an event exclusively meant for kids starts. You will feel a whole lot safer if there are plenty of other children (along with instructors, teachers, organizer volunteers) present at the venue. Child safety is not something you can afford to ignore.
- Choose events that are futuristic – Magic shows, recitations, riddles – these feature in any run-of-the-mill kids’ party (a birthday party, for instance). The events you pick out for your child to attend should bring the li’l one up, close and personal with sophisticated, futuristic stuff – like mobile storytelling apps, or websites that allow kids to read books online. Knowledge of things like this would stand the child in good stead in future.
Many organizers set up mini book fairs and/or display stalls of kids’ products at the venue itself. It would be great if you can find such an event for your child to attend. Find out when the programs are scheduled to end, and return to the place at least 10 minutes early, to pick up your ward. Ask your son/daughter whether (s)he liked the proceedings at the event – this would help you in picking out more suitable events for him/her later. Do not let your child remain shy and lacking in confidence – and take him/out for nice and interesting events for kids. (S)he will love it!
In any case, don’t we already have too many children spending hours on end with video games and mobile social networking apps?