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Monday, November 29, 2021

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Family LifeParentingShould children study during the summer holidays

Should children study during the summer holidays

🕓 Estimated read time: 4 minutes

The Summer 2021 half term is soon upon us. But should we be making our children study during the summer holidays, or should we allow them the freedom they deserve?

Summer half term

The summer half-term generates a fair bit of excitement with kids of all ages. 6 weeks of doing whatever they want, freedom from school, water fights, and holidays. I remember when I was at school in the ‘90s we were actively encouraged to go out and do everything possible to avoid even thinking about school.

2021 may not be any different. With legal restrictions due to be lifted on the 19th July and holiday destination restrictions relaxing slightly, we could all be in for a good bit of normality. Something we all desperately need.

Studying during half term

The COVID-19 pandemic has, without doubt, created a host of obstacles for the education system to overcome. With talks of a ‘catch-up plan’, extending school days, and some other, quite frankly ridiculous suggestions to help the children and education system get back on track.

Is one of the solutions to aid the recovery to make children study during the summer holidays? I’m not entirely convinced they should be. I’m kind of on the fence on this one. Recently we received a letter from our kid’s secondary school explaining that work will be issued to the children over the summer break. They are expected to do little and often. With my son’s primary school issuing certain elements of subliminal education to do over the holidays.

Should kids have a breather from school work

As I said, I’m on the fence. I’m all for education and do think the kids have a certain amount of catching up to do. But, as has always been the case throughout remote and home schooling, have the kids actually missed that much? In our case, throughout the remote learning phase of the pandemic, my kids were bombarded with a ridiculous and in some cases unmanageable amount of work. More than they would receive if attending school or college. So what did they miss exactly?

Friendship Group

I do believe we should keep the cogs turning academically in our kids heads, but do we need to teach them a life lesson that is one of stress and panic in the process? I don’t think so. Life, especially in your academic years, is about learning and having life experiences. Developing yourself and creating relationships.

Surely by removing elements of their freedom we’re teaching them nothing other than ‘you must work nonstop until you reach the goal others expect you to be at’.

What can we do differently

Should we, as parents/carers be doing something different to support our kids academically during half term? We’re kind of stuck in the hands of the education system. Could the government and education system do anything differently? Schools, in my opinion, have handled the pandemic quite remarkably, and appears the pandemic itself hasn’t really caused much of a chew on. It seems to be the ever-changing expectations of the government that has put pressure on schools.

Are schools and the government really putting our kid’s education at the forefront, or is it to do with targets and money.

Preparing for the new term

Looking at my kids, all 3 are at different crucial stages of school and college. Let’s take my youngest first, a year in Reception. But not quite. Due to the pandemic and lockdown, he was probably physically at school for half of that. The new term sees him go into year 1. The year when some of the fun is sapped out of the kids because the real work starts, but there are a plethora of things that can be done during the holidays that can and will help him prep for the next stage in his school life. None would require him to sit and do work when he could be doing educational play with friends.

Pre 16 year old

My middle daughter started the first year of secondary school just before the pandemic hit and never really settled, it wasn’t the greatest start to secondary school, with lockdowns and isolations. At Lilly’s age, there is definitely a need to knuckle down and be psychologically and academically prepared for the next stage in her schooling. Maybe elements of recapping could be used over the holidays.

Post 16 year old

My Oldest, Chloe, will be going into the 2nd year of 6th form. And it’s been without question, one of the most challenging years for her. Unprecedented, workload, unrealistic deadlines, and expectations along with the psychological impact it’s had on her. The 2nd year of 6th form brings the pressure of choosing the next path in life. Whether to go to university or choosing an alternative to university. Personal statements, UCAS preparations, and the additional stresses of ‘catching up’ and A-Levels.

I can appreciate for post 16-year-olds that there is going to be an element of academics to do during the summer holidays. But do we need to be giving them actual lesson work to do?

Psychological impact

It worries me slightly that we’re putting far too much pressure on children in education. What psychological impact is this having on our kids? I know from first-hand experiences during 2020 & 2021 that these pressures have had an impact on my oldest two. Schools, seem to be sympathetic, but they have targets to meet so carry on pushing and pushing until it reaches breaking point.

Psycological Impact Press Stress

I think it’s fair to say that kids have had a tough time of it during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been expected to attend remote classes, go to school to then be sent home from school. To deliver work on time every time without fail, as well as deal with the uncertainties and upheaval the pandemic caused to child care, parents working from home, and not being able to interact with their friendship groups.

School work in the summer holidays

I’m just not sure how I feel about it. I’m on the fence. Is there any point in having a 6-week break if they’re going to have to do school work?

What are your thoughts? Should we expect our children to study during the summer holidays? Or should we allow them the freedom they deserve?

Let me know in the comments below.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Great to read the perspective of parents of older children – I’m a teacher so often get stuck in the teacher echo chamber, but I have just had my first child this year.

    I 100% advocate that there should be learning taking place in the summer holidays, but not as the DfE and some schools want. As much as it’s possible, children should be taken out to places to learn – castles, museums, beaches, landscapes; or be encouraged to do things at home – cook a few meals, learn to clean the bathroom, read some books, do some DIY. Summer is the only time children can do ‘life learning’, and I think that’s a parental responsibility more than a school’s.

  2. It’s the impact on your older two that I most chime with. My eldest started secondary school in September and it’s been a roller coaster, especially towards the end of the school year. The impact has been awful. To continue working during summer? Well, this year and htis year only I think a few minute most days is possibly not such a bad idea but it will depend on the child. Our eldest has fallen behind in a couple of subjects so it’ll just be to hepl nudge her to about where she should be. But no more than that, these kids need to relax.

    • Yeh, this is pretty much where I’m at with it all. Maybe just elements of catch-up to bring them to at least their expected grades. In a lot of causes through no fault of their own.

  3. Great read Damion , as for you mentioning the government over pressurising schools to hit targets and money, maybe to do exactly with that.

    It was the same with my girls school they have adapted fantastically to everything to do with the pandemic, I found communication to parents from the school vastly improve.

    Its difficult isn’t it. My 5yr old is in the same situation as yours, first year at school and only done maybe half of that academic year.

    I can see with older children like yours that are in college and secondary school why they may look to offer school work to do in the summer holidays as its a vital time of education at their age. But are the pressures really needed, I don’t think so.

    With all the stress and worry of the pandemic has given even our kids this last year and more, plus with the work they have done within school and home schooling, I don’t know about your children bud but mine are absolutely mentally exhausted. The last half term break didn’t quite give them that time needed to recharge mentally. This is what the 6 week summer holidays are for.

    Maybe some light work or to keep on with reading (younger age range) but I think they should just let them have that time for a break.

    Sorry for the long reply

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