The long summer holidays; Why do children need it?

6 weeks of no school

The summer holidays can either fill you with delight or dread. For me, as a teacher, it used to be a valuable time for me to relax from the constant strains of teaching in a secondary school. I was able to travel, stay up late and pursue hobbies that I had neglected.

Now that I have children my summer holidays feel like my full-time job. My children need to be continually ‘entertained’. I could just let them watch TV all day, but it affects their behaviour and attitude. I would rather limit screen time and not have the associated stress.

Six weeks is a long time in a child’s life; it can feel long for me as well. I have to keep my children occupied for roughly thirty-six days. This can be a mammoth task and makes us question the logic of giving children a whole six weeks off.

Reasons for reducing the school holidays.

Some people argue that the six week holidays are an outdated concept dating back to the times when children were needed to help on the farm. Children would have to assist parents as they harvested and stored crops for their fields.

Now that agriculture is no longer a national priority, people would argue that six weeks off is too much. For many people, childcare is expensive and they would much rather have their child in school than to fork out hundreds of pounds or take time off to look after their children.

Childcare has become a massive issue since women have pursued their own careers which means a decline in stay at home mothers. Also, many families do not have the luxury of only one parent working as they need both wages to keep their head above water. Surely, pupils having fewer holidays will mean parents are more prosperous due to the absence of childcare cost.
Another argument for reducing holidays is one of education. Campaigners would argue that the UK lags behind other countries in terms of the education provided to its pupils. Literacy and numeracy levels remain a concern; with creative subjects being put on the side-lines in favour of academics. Wouldn’t an increase in term time means that students would get a better education and the added time would mean that they can explore more ‘creative’ subjects like Music and Drama?
Other people would argue that six weeks off is rather a long holiday for teachers. Teaching is one profession that has one of the highest ‘holiday’ ratios. People would argue that this is excessive and not necessary. While people work hard to only get a few weeks off a year, teachers swan around with twelve weeks.

Arguments to why they are needed

Thirty weeks of education can be tiring on children. Imagine having to do training for work all day, every day rather than do your job? I am aware that not all the day at school is spent on learning new concepts; they have to also practice the skills and knowledge they have already learnt. Taking in too many concepts all at once can lead to burnout.

If practising Mindfulness has taught me anything; it’s that our brains need a break. Constantly taking onboard information can lead to a cycle of overthinking. I have witnessed the effects of a seven-week term on the pupils I teach; their brains struggle to cope. Likewise, as a mother of a five-year-old, I have witnessed my sons ability to function without getting over emotional decline around week five of continuous schooling.

Although some families have to rely on childcare throughout the summer, the summer holidays allow for extended amounts of family time. As much as my children can be testing at times; I love spending time with them. People might say ‘what about the weekends’, however, our weekends usually revolve around visiting family or doing household duties. The holidays offer me the chance to plan activities that mean I can strengthen the bond with my children and work on their happiness.

The summer holidays are a perfect time for children to learn what makes them happy. Self-care is such an important thing in our frantic society where mental health issues are on the increase. Children need the opportunity to do things that make them happy; go outdoors, paint, dance, be creative. It is essential for children to find out what motivates and drives them through exploring different activities. They need to develop a sense of their own self and become confident in knowing what makes them happy.

When my children say to me ‘I’m bored’ I say ‘good’. Children need to experience times of boredom; it helps them learn more about themselves. As a parent, there is a temapation to constantly provide different activities and things to entertain them but this can be a dual-edged sword. Children need to be aware that, while they are still loved and worthy; they are not the centre of other people’s universes. You cannot fill every single moment of the summer with fun activities so there will be some downtime where they can learn to amuse themselves without the assistance of adults.

As a child, there were times when I was left bored and had to think of inventive ways of entertaining myself. I believe this time has allowed me to develop my own sense of independence and be able to cope with times where I am alone. Having time to yourself is vital to healthy brain functioning.

Most of the time, school holidays are for fun activities that you would not ordinarily do when at school. Activities such as climbing trees, making mud pie’s and frolicking around are essential for the development of motor skills, problem-solving and creative thinking. It also enables them to notice what is around them without their mind worrying about homework, grades or targets.

My opinion as a teacher and mother

Although I have tried to present a balanced argument; it is easy to see where my opinion lies in this argument. School holidays are a vital part of childhood that is needed. As a teacher, it enables my pupils to recharge ready for the learning ahead of them. It also allows them time to access what makes them happy and develop a sense of self; whether that be through play or through moments of boredom and alone time.

As a mother, I believe they are a necessary part of a child’s development. Even if I had to work throughout them and pay for childcare I would still support them because my children will be learning about how the world works, what makes them happy and developing skills that they might not necessarily gain in a classroom where every single moment is scheduled.

Children need to be children

Children are not adults. This is an obvious fact; so why do we push them into the ‘rat race’ that adulthood brings. Children need time to be children and to grow and develop at their own pace, on their own terms for a short period of time. We are so eager for them to achieve academically that they have so much pressure and competition.

Life is just a matter of moments and before we know it, our children will be grown up and wishing they could go back to the long summer holidays when they made a mess, had fun and learn about the most important person in their lives; themselves.

If you want idea of activities you can follow my pinterest board of activities.

What is your opinion on the school holidays; I am always up for a healthy debate on the subject. As always, keep comments polite and show kindness, we all have different opinions and that is what makes us unique.

Ciao for now beauties xx

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Carole Bryson says:

    You never mentioned the fact that teachers still work for a good chunk of those holidays, which in turn, lessens the time they have with their own families, hobbies etc.,

    I think holidays are just the right length … maybe some years when it is a six week or more break, it could be cut slightly, but five weeks was perfect for me when I worked in education xx

  2. ida says:

    Kids in Finland are on summer holidays from the beginning of June until mid-August, i.e. around 10 weeks. Over here there has been ongoing debate about possibly shortening the summer break, as working parents only have a total of 5 weeks of holidays, usually 4 weeks during the summer and 1 week during the winter. The difference in holiday lengths for adults vs kids causes obvious logistic, organizational and daycare issues for families. However, when it comes to academic performance, Finland has been a top global performer for several years. In that sense, even though I fully understand the downside to kids having long holidays, at the same time I think they are very important.

  3. tweilbacher714 says:

    In the US, summer is typically about 8 weeks, depending on the state. I think it’s way too long. Of course kids need time with their families, but I think it’s crazy to have that big of a block of time off school. Breaking it up, or shortening the length of summer break would really be a good idea.

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