Parents in Ho Chi Minh City are putting in effort to teach their children social skills, besides their studying at school, through outdoor activities.
Gardening, doing charity, or selling products at fairs are some of the activities some parents guide their kids into doing in the hope that they can learn knowledge from real life.
Becoming a fair seller
One afternoon, Mai Thanh and Sammer, both 7, were excitedly selling popcorn at a booth at a fair in Go Vap District.
At the booth selling home-made products by seven families around the city, the children and their parents were busy making cookies and popcorn, topping ice cream or attaching price tags to their products.
“Doing this helps our kids respect the money they earned on their own,” Doan Cam Anh, a mother at the fair, said. “When the products did not sell out, I explained to them that life does not always offer what they want.”
“Our kids suffer a lot of pressure from studying at school,” she added. “I have seen a generation which only knows their schools and homes, so I want my kids to communicate more with the world.”
It did not matter how many products Lam Ngoc Phuoc Thu’s son could sell because all Thu wanted was for her kid to feel life by communicating with people, not a computer, as well as to understand life realistically, the mother said while her child, Thuan, a 6th grader, was smiling after selling only one cake out of a bunch he had made.
The parents admitted that the activity was a good way for them to avoid the situation where parents hang out together on weekends and have nothing for their kids to do except for letting them play with computers or smartphones.
“The whole family gathering like a team to sell products like this is both fun and effective,” Le Thi Thanh Mai expressed. “I love it when our kids laugh.”
“I did it!”
“I did it!” Mai Kim Cuc, 6, excitedly yelled when she successfully cut a cucumber out of a stem during her family trip to the Family Garden in District 2.
Cuc’s family is among a number who choose to bring their kids to gardens and farms in the city to learn more about nature.
Nguyen Thi Tram Anh, Cuc’s mother, said this was the first time she and the family had come to the garden.
“I sometimes don’t know where to take my kids on the weekend, so coming to this place and letting her see vegetables as well as harvest them are very interesting,” Anh said.
“This is also a way to turn lessons about plants in my kid’s textbooks into vivid examples,” she added.
Coming to the garden, kids are also taught about many kinds of vegetables, planting as well as harvesting them.
“I often gave my kids an iPad or smartphone every time they nag,” Le Lam, the father of two kids of three and five years old, said. “I also thought that my children are the passive type since they hardly speak, but I realized that they are very dynamic when I bring them here.
“Our family also has more time to talk to each other,” he added.
After harvesting the fruits and vegetables, families also have a chance to gather together and ask the garden’s staff to cook for them.
Fenton Robert, an Australian, together with his wife and four-year-old daughter, also enjoyed learning how to make Vietnamese spring rolls at the garden.
“I’ve worked in Ho Chi Minh City for a long time but cooking Vietnamese dishes is not familiar to us,” Robert said. “Here they provide us with ingredients so today I must learn to make the dish.”
Quynh Tran, director of Family Garden, said gardens like hers will be developed in the city because many people have put investment into them, explaining that even urban adults still want their kids to know about countryside things.
Meanwhile, Home’s Garden, another model of the gardening service, has also run a program which teaches parents how to make wine and their kids how to garden.
“Playing with vegetables is a way to help children build up their skill with food, as well as love to eat more vegetables,” Do Linh, the owner of Home’s Garden, said.
Linh added that his program’s message is helping families play and learn at the same time, as well as connecting them together on weekends and avoiding the scene in which parents take their children to restaurants and let them play games on smartphones while they are eating.
According to Linh, kids participating in gardening will learn social skills like thinking, making plans, and managing time and money as well as protecting the environment.
The Vuong Tron Melon Garden, another garden in the city, said that it is not just parents who take their kids there; a number of city schools have also put further effort into teaching students more about life by taking them to gardens.
Nguyen Minh Nhan, a Vuong Tron representative, said that his garden will offer a special service for schools which combines knowledge to teach children during their trip there in addition to allowing people to grow melons at the place.