AS a child, breaking up for the long six-week summer holiday was something I longed for.
The last week at school dragged as I waited for the holidays to begin. The only thing in my way during the last week was sports day, non-uniform day and ‘toy day’ – does that even still exist in schools?
I’d imagine teachers would be filled with dread by the idea of children bringing in toys from home, some with more expensive (but not necessarily better) toys than others and I can well understand if it has long been banned.
But I digress. I loved the school summer holidays – for the first few weeks anyway.
It starts well, a family holiday, followed by my birthday, a few trips out and then boredom. Children like routines and there are no routines by week six.
I’m now a parent myself and I wonder how on earth parents cope between now and September.
I’m a few years off having to plan my annual leave around school holidays but how do working parents cover so much time off school in one chunk? Grandma/grandad day-care, I imagine. Aren’t they amazing?
And then there’s the cost.
I’ve seen research that shows parents can fork out up to £2,000 on the costs of entertaining children over the summer holidays.
While the figure may include a holiday, it’s still a staggering amount for most of us to afford.
But a few trips to the cinema/bowling/seaside soon mounts up once you start adding in food, travel, ice-creams – a quick search online throws up a £24 cost for two adults and two children to see a film. One day down, 35 to go.
My son will remain in nursery part-time over summer, but our usual mum and toddler groups aren’t running and I’m already planning activities for our other days.
Top tip, the Woodland Trust has some great Nature Detective activity sheets and ideas for exploring outdoors.
But I do wonder if the six weeks children have off every summer is too long?
Some councils have thought the same – Barnsley, Brighton and Cardiff councils have looked at reducing the summer holidays and extending a holiday elsewhere by a week.
The idea has a mixed reaction – you can’t make everyone happy all of the time.
I know teachers need and deserve to recharge.
I know a few teachers who work and plan lessons during every school holiday so they’re not currently idling away six weeks in the sun.
But the issue there is teachers can’t plan and teach at the same time and they aren’t given enough time during the term to do all the paperwork expected of them. They certainly shouldn’t be expected to do it during their holidays.
I think for children and parents, and the wider educational experience, four weeks off in the summer would be better than six weeks.
It would reduce the burden of cost that falls on the parents, it will make arranging child care easier and it will mean our children don’t face a big learning gap in a year.