July 03, 2019

Greetings and welcome to Education Matters. For many parents the School Holidays can pose a number of scenarios. For some folk, they just seem to drag on endlessly. The children sit around the house bored to tears, while the parents usually the mother, are tired of being the “personal chef”, “entertainer” and in some cases “referee”!

In such homes, often the only respite at the end of each evening is to gleefully cross off one more day of torment from the calendar! However, some parent/s view the holidays in a completely different light. These folk see them as precious time to catch up and reconnect with their child/ren due to their busy work schedules. Surely, the irony here (and one that is certainly becoming commonplace) must be, why indeed do parent/s take on such back breaking workloads that inevitably remove them from the very people they love the most.

Then due to guilt / remorse / hope, endeavour to make up for this lost time any way they can, usually during their child’s School Holidays?

May I suggest a more rational and balanced outlook to School Holidays? Namely, well before they “suddenly arrive at your doorstep” do some homework yourself and devise a creative timetable whereby both the parents and child/ren do in fact enjoy quality time together and also apart. Factor in get together’s for your children with their friends, so you get a break from each other! Here are a few simple and inexpensive suggestions:
1. Sleep overs. (Always a big favourite).
2. Days / afternoons spent at different friend’s homes. Contact the parents of your child’s friends and work out a roster together. The more the merrier to share the load… or should that be love?
3. Visit a gallery. (Bali must have the most art / craft jewellery galleries in Indonesia).
4. Source out artistic folk who offer classes in art / music / sports. Sign up for one yourself with your children.
5. Suggest a family task. For example, start a vegetable patch, paint a room in the family home, redecorate a bedroom (maybe your child’s), restore a piece of furniture together. Create a family heirloom!
6. Cook together! Share you favourite / only dish with your children. Everyone participates in the preparation, cleaning up and eating of the meal. Create a Family Cookbook!
7. Go on a Fitness Kick together. Could be as simple a getting up early in the morning to go for a walk together or doing some exercises that bring a few smiles.
8. Teach your children something that you are confident in! Such as playing the guitar, speaking another language even demonstrating those long lost mechanical repair skills.

Things to avoid on School Holidays:
• Technology. Establish phone free, computer free days. Trade technology for conversation. (Who knows, maybe you can keep this one going after the holidays).
• Breaking your word. Be very clear about what you say regarding a pledged activity or time together with your children. You must stick to the agreed plan and keep your word!!
• Negative mindset and fatigue. Keep healthy sleep patterns and be mindful of alcohol consumption. Your energy is precious to everyone.
• Do not complain about how expensive everything is! Now is not the time to dump guilt, rather plan an activity you can happily afford.
• Unscheduled “Parent Party Times”. Try to avoid having adult gatherings during the holidays. Invaribly you will lose precious time and energy that should be directed towards your family. Try to remember the holidays are not forever but for just a few weeks.

I would encourage parent’s to recall their own memories of School Holidays. In particular, the happy times perhaps when you went on a journey together as a family or with friends. A time that cemented a relationship, one that may still be in place. While group family holidays can be a lot of fun and certainly useful for your children in terms of watching how other families engage with each other, do not abdicate your personal responsibility. Do not drift off with the other adult’s under the pretense your child is fine and having a great time without you. Some of the fondest and unfortunately, challenging childhood memories are created on “the family holiday”. Your children need you (especially father’s) to do that simple playful activity together that confirms in their young mind they know without doubt, how precious they are to you. It can be a lasting cornerstone in their memory of how they as an adult, define their personal happiness! Finally, be mindful that during this rather extended break from school your child may experience changes in their physical appearance, especially if they are entering puberty.

Consequently, when the new school year arrives your child may return as a young lady or man, such changes are immensely significant milestones that will without doubt, require your time and attention.

Finally, my homily for this edition of Education Matters is:

“While knowledge is power and useful information liberating, it is only through meaningful Education that progress can be obtained and shared in every family and in every society”.

Dr. Leith is a qualified Primary, Secondary and Special Education Teacher. Has a Master’s Degree in Cognitive Stimulation using Music as a Therapy, A Ph.D in Education Evaluating how Special Education Classroom Teachers Manage Challenging Behaviour. Has lectured and conducted Post Doctoral Research at The School of Psychology and Human Development at The Institute of Education, London University. Has presented his findings on Dyslexia to a Select Committee in the UK House of Commons. Is a member of the Editoral Board of The International Journal of Inclusive Education.

If you have a question that you would like to put to Dr. Leith, send an email to: ask.dr.leith@gmail.com

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