DUBAI // Abdullah Mustaffah loves to play football outside. But in the summer heat, he is forced to find fun inside. With school out, Abdullah, seven, has just his brother and sister for company, and finds staying at home "boring". But this summer's long holiday is different. He is one of 100 children at the Dubai Women's College's summer school, regulated by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
A further 100 children, aged four to 10, are on a waiting list for the four-week school, which sees children singing, performing, learning arts and crafts, and going on day trips. The children, all Emirati, attend the school for free. The college and KHDA pay all costs. Children come from Sharjah and Dubai to the school, which makes use of the college facilities. It is the first time Abdullah has attended summer school.
"Usually I'd be at home bored," he says. He admits that during the long summer break, he is "a bit naughty" for his mother, struggling to find things to do. "I play PSP, but my mum always tries to get me to do schoolwork when I'm at home," he says. Each week is a different theme. This week it is the jungle. Children are singing songs about animals, making clay figures and role playing, among the many week-long activities.
In the coming weeks, themes will be water, Emirati traditions and fairytales. Maitha Abdullah, seven, loves summer school, which is conducted mainly in English. "When it's not hot outside, we are outside a lot with our family," she says. "I love summer school because I want to speak English." It is also her first time at the summer school, which has been running for four years. It is organised by the college's education students.
Hamda Bu Hasher, 22, is this year's principal. She has just graduated from a course in early childhood education. "This is becoming more and more popular every year," she says. "It's even more popular now we've opened for four- and five-year-olds. We're specialised in children of this age group." Hessa al Mehairi has also just graduated from the college. "Summers here can be tough for kids," she says.
"The family looks for indoor activities for the children so this summer school helps the children to learn new things in a fun environment. There are things like performance which they do here that they don't get the chance to do at school." Not everyone is able to leave the UAE and escape the summer heat. Many of the children's parents have work commitments, others may simply not have the money to spend weeks away, leaving them with many weeks to entertain several offspring.
Nouf Ahmad, 10, is not going away this summer. "At home, I don't have things to do," she says. "All I do is watch TV." @Email:email@example.com Follow this and our other hot-weather series of stories at www.thenational.ae/summer let us know your ideas for summer activities on our forum.