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6 weeks off is so good for kids.

(112 Posts)
Fraxinus Tue 30-Jul-13 20:18:54

Agree or disagree?

I agree! My kids seem so much more themselves after only 10 days off school. Less stressed, more communicative, more fun, less whinging. LOVE it.

Periwinkle007 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:01:16

plant misters are a great idea Sheridand. like the twig maze idea too but I fear I have just killed off lots of our ants because they started flying into the house so I boiled the kettle and dealt with them - oops.

today we have been to the shops (had fun calculating how many mini boxes of cereal packs we would need for our week away if 3 people have one every day), library (again - the 5 year old is doing book track so has to read 100 books. she is reading 4 a day so we have to keep going back as to get them logged she has to tell a librarian all about them. She only started it last week and her confidence in discussing the books with the library staff has rapidly increased which is brilliant, certainly the incentive of stickers and badges at certain points along the way is encouraging her to read otherwise I don't think she would be). they have played with some wax strip things my mum bought cheap in TKMaxx and you can model things out of, we have had jewellery, candy canes, a fish, a pyramid, flowers and more.

must get some more chalks, the last ones got left out in the rain and disintegrated.

sheridand Thu 01-Aug-13 16:03:29

Weird cartoon charcaters is great! Have you got a camera where you can take shots and then run them together? Make a film! Plasticine models do well as well. Thankyou, Artzooka guy! Bike riding is fab once all your kids "get it". I can now cycle to the next village along through footpaths and cycleways and take a picnic to the river. It takes a whole day and is free. As they get bigger things get so much easier, but when they are not toddlers anymore (which are fairly well catered for, I find), and not yet KS2, they get a bit lost. There's really nothing much for KS1 where I live, you have to make your own fun. Todays big hit has been quid plant misters from the pound shop. Tommorrow, I'm going to make sugar syrup water trails on the patio and see if we can get the ants to go through a twig maze to get it. Kind of gross, but i'm hoping it will be fun, as long as they don't choose that day to go all flying ant on me. What I really need is a stream shallow enough to dam. That can fill a week!

Elibean Thu 01-Aug-13 13:33:16

<takes notes> food colouring, chalk, lemons. I'm going shopping.

There are some fantastic workshops around here for teens and pre-teens, the dds are desperate to be old enough to do them - run at a local Arts Centre. Everything from Street Dancing to designing Avatars to recycling sculptures (!).

Mine are starting to read because they want to - after refusing to look at a book for a week. And (finally) learning to ride bikes. And doing art workshops, jumping in paddling pools, and designing weird cartoon characters confused

BabiesAreLikeBuses Wed 31-Jul-13 23:31:26

periwinkle i totally agree with you about boredom and creativity. Not from scientific research but in my own experience as a teacher creativity is on the down - and hard to put back in later. It worries me that so many don't know how to occupy themselves. I'm lucky that i get the holiday too and i'm not bored, the change of pace is doing me good, schools nowadays are intense for all involved and we all need a break from that to rediscover what we like doing. It's nice not to rush the kids away fromwhat they want to do.
Mine like chalk on the patio, multicoloured and washes off in the rain, they've been setting up a cafe and writing up the price list for their plastic food...

sonlypuppyfat Wed 31-Jul-13 21:16:54

When they were little we did the park library thing but what do you do when they are teenagers, when they want to go out with their mates and want money.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 21:10:12

mine paint the patio with water and it just dries clean

sheridand Wed 31-Jul-13 21:07:38

Elibean: the genius is that the food colouring washes off brick! (after several downpours) No wiping down required. Don't do it on stucco or pebble dash though!

pointythings Wed 31-Jul-13 20:48:45

We're in week 2, mine are just starting to unwind. We pay for holiday childcare, are very lucky that it's subsidised through DH's work and very very high quality. They are so much more relaxed and less tired, they need the long break in the summer.

The DDs usually start talking about wanting to go back at the beginning of week 6.

Elibean Wed 31-Jul-13 20:21:37

blush slight divergence from thread topic...

Elibean Wed 31-Jul-13 20:21:02

Paint the house? Your house? shock Respect!

I don't think I could relax while our whitewashed house turned purple, but I definitely go with the junk modelling. On a smaller scale, usually, but still - dd1 always has her nose in a recycling bin and wants to be a designer.

I love the lemonade idea - will try that. Thanks.

sheridand Wed 31-Jul-13 20:16:01

There is no easier task in the world than giving your kids a crate of lemons, a bag of sugar and some water. It takes them hours to squeeze the lemons, dissolve the suggar and mix it. You can kick back and supervise. It's joy!

And junk modelling: superb. Just mix up a ton of PVA glue with the paint and it goes sort of waterproof-ish and shiny. I allow them a quarter of the garden each Summer to destroy/ create. Last year it was just massive holes but this year it's cities out of junk. As long as you're not too precious about paint on your grass, it's an easy activity to watch!

Last year my best one was putting a bit of paint and food colouring into buckets of water, giving them a big paintbrush, and letting them paint the house. Hours of fun, while I sat in a chair with a glass of wine. I'm all about the ease of effort!

Elibean Wed 31-Jul-13 17:31:17

sheridand Junk cities and lemonade sales? Yep, I want to live in your house grin

sheridand Wed 31-Jul-13 17:01:57

I think everyone needs it. Parents, teachers, and kids. As a teacher, I needed it to refuel, to plan, and to gen up on new A2 syllabus, and yes, to rest! As a parent, I need it to have a break from going "Come on! Come ON! COME ON!" in the mornings and making everything a rush. In jammies till 10am? Huzzah! As kids, my two, (aged 5 and 6) need it desperately. They're KNACKERED by July. They're whiny and tired and no longer learning. They are timetabled out. They've lost the ability to just "be". Now, after a few days of just sleepy whining, however many days in we are, they spent the morning with a few friends round, and for 4 hours so far this afternoon, they've been playing in the gravel and mud with a hosepipe, making dams. They can do this for hours. Whilst doing that, they've learnt about water properties, physics, amused the dog, and relaxed. They will go to bed filthy and happy, happy to have played for longer in one day than their usual school week schedule allows. I love seeing them blossom over Summer.

Yes, there's fallback, maybe, with reading. They are still reading, and writing ( we keep Summer scrapbooks) but they're mostly just playing, and long may it reign.

My school is considering a 4 week Summer break. As it's high incidence school meals, in a deprived area, and with poor parental literacy, it probably does make sense in terms of fallback for the intake. But I will miss the long Summer.

Being bored is part of it: It takes a certain amount of boringness to get your brain working imaginatively. I recall Summers making complex Sindy mazes and cities out of cardboard and grass cuttings. My two are planning on making a city of junk, our shed is FULL of crap for them. We also have 40 lemons for a lenmonade sale at some point and a dog who is willing to be walked to death. Happy days.

Elibean Wed 31-Jul-13 16:26:33

I agree, though 4-5 might do it. It's the experience of a break thats long enough for a child not to be able to quite imagine the end of, iyswim.

I actually think at least 4 weeks' change of routine and pace now and then is extremely healthy for all. As adults, we may not be able to afford to take it - but we can at least try and provide that kind of break for our kids.

2 weeks is not at all the same. I bet if someone tested the cortisol levels, or whatever (non scientist here), it would take 2-3 weeks for them to drop to truly relaxed levels.

Time out for relationships that have got too intense, time out for overloaded brains, time out for sleep, time out to try things one never tries in the rat race of timetables and deadlines.

Personally, as a child and as a teen, I always found the summer break would bring a depth of change, creativity, and renewal - though I couldn't have expressed it as that, at the time.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 14:13:34

I think they need more than a couple of weeks to learn to a) get bored and b) how to deal with that themselves. Ok so if they are little they can't deal with it completely by themselves but imaginations are seriously depleted in many children nowadays. their little lives are so planned out and so much of the activities they do are thought out for them. remember when we had to imagine a toy train made a noise or a toy telephone was just literally a bit of wood so we used to use our imaginations to turn it into the real thing. We used to have a rug and we pretended it was a flying carpet and it could take us anywhere. The kids book "Beryl's Box" is fantastic about how 2 little girls play with a box, one has just a box and is very happy with it, the other has every toy she can imagine wanting and is bored but she learns how to have adventures with the box too and then just wants a box not expensive toys. Everything now interacts, even look at how schools entertain them in wet play. we used to get given paper and pencils etc, they sit and watch a DVD. My playschool never put the TV on because there were only children's programmes for such a short time during the day but now preschools often let them watch tv for part of the session. They are losing the ability to think for themselves. To make a den or a tent or a playhouse, to grow vegetables (assuming you have a yard or garden but even in a flat you could grow herbs on the windowsill, to design different varieties of paper aeroplane, to work out what makes it go faster and why, to do sciencey stuff themselves and so on. (hubby told me once he used to make gunpowder as a teenager but luckily never learned to compact it!) He has always tinkered with DIY type things and his mum certainly didn't teach him and his father was dead so he just did it himself.

I see the length of the holidays that the first week they want to crash out and just veg a bit watching some TV and not doing much, then they get their energy levels recharged and want to start doing things but can't think what, too much choice or not enough, then in about week 3 they must start to reach a balance of occupying themselves, using their imaginations.

If they gain these skills as children then when they get to being teenagers and young adults there is less chance they will be hanging around on street corners complaining that noone has given them anything to do, they will be confident that they can find themselves something to do, that they can challenge themselves to rebuild an old computer they found at the tip or something. They will be more resourceful and will probably, ultimately go further.

Some children really seriously do not have the opportunities for this or the guidance or role models which is where youth clubs and other activities play a part, the scouting/guiding movement I think teaches a lot of these skills. they aren't for everyone but they do help teach a certain level of resourcefulness and how to occupy yourself.

I should add though that by saying often kids lives are so planned out they don't get a chance to think for themselves I am not saying holiday actvities/summer school things are bad, not in the slightest and in many cases they are absolutely vital in terms of childcare and keeping children safe. They can learn just as much from these things as they can from being at home but I do think they need a certain amount of time to just be themselves.

JemimaMuddledUp Wed 31-Jul-13 12:47:56

I think that the 6 week summer holiday is good for kids.

It does help that I have the same school holidays, so there are no childcare worries. I try to find a balance between organised activities eg swimming lessons, trips out for the day etc and time to just relax and hang out with their friends. We are lucky that we live in a rural village so they have friends living nearby but it is safe enough to go to the park etc without an adult.

They seem to have the space to be themselves during the holidays, they always seem to grow in maturity.

Growlithe Wed 31-Jul-13 12:36:01

Phoenix, TBF this thread is in the Primary Education section, so is not specifically about teenager, so the debate does have a bit of a different focus, illustrated by the OPs latest update, which shows to me that younger children do need time to relax because school can be very tiring for them.

However, I would suggest that a longer holiday could be useful in your own case. You rightly say that a child needs to be challenged up to a point. But is school really the only place where a child can be challenged? Does a child need to earn to challenge themselves outside of a structured situation, to become more self motivating?

A one or two week break wouldn't necessarily do this, as the child could potentially spend that amount of time in front of the tell or the Xbox if that way inclined, but for longer holidays that would be unbearable and so the child is almost forced to find themselves a more worthwhile challenge.

mam29 Wed 31-Jul-13 12:23:38

I think some kids have lost ability to amuse themselves as used to very structured activities

holiday clubs
after school clubs.

I try ad organise the kids the toys at home by type in boxes.
also zone some toys in specific rooms.

i set up a craft box before holidays paper, crayons playdough.

Thats not amused them like I thourght it would
they bored of tv and we have sky lots channels.

I got out the mr potato head box and block box that worked with younger 2 for short while age2 and nearly 4

But 7year old no shes bored!

then i put those boxes away and little boy played with vehicles box and tea set.

Both girls work better when doing planned structured activity with supervision, my house looks kike a tiop every room they go into.

most sahm cant afford holiday clubs.

2year old has chicken pox cant go park.
rained here so gardens out.
hubbys working.

I like not having schools runs but worrried we only had 1 week so ar as they broke up last wed.

wanted to do something hubbys day off but hes so busy hes not having a day off this week.

food shopping a nightmare with 3kids inn tow.

trying to be positive I love spending time with them but keeping them amused is afulltime job.

Fraxinus Wed 31-Jul-13 12:02:28

if kids need 6 weeks downtime then it suggests there is a problem with schools. A big problem

Hello everyone, sorry I have been off line, what a lot of interesting responses.

I think what phoenix said ^^ is really interesting. I started this thread in raptures of how different my kids seem since the holidays began. Like glee geek I can see and feel her unwinding from the stresses of school and the demands of rushing here and there. She and I are giggling/cuddling/being spontaneous and it's great

I wish everyday life allowed my children to be more themselves.

PhoenixUprising Wed 31-Jul-13 11:37:45

Growlithe - this thread asked the question do you think 6 weeks off for kids is good? I say no.

This is absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they enjoy it, whether or not I enjoy it. I don't think 6 weeks break are a good thing for kids.

I'm trying to debate the topic.

There is no woe is me. Whether or not I'm unhappy has nothing to do with my position. Nor is my kids happiness.

Periwinkle has proposed a reason why holidays are good. I think it's an interesting point but by and large not possible. By and large kids don't have the resources to find out what interests them. They're very, very constrained by what they can do in the holidays.

All the psychology studies claim that people are happiest when they are challenged, but not too much. This is why people want a good career, and why kids enjoy school.

And why finding ways to pass the time when you're on holiday feels so unsatisfying.

We don't tell adults to do nothing for 6 weeks. So why do we tell kids?

There really is something screwy going on.

notso Wed 31-Jul-13 10:00:42

I am in a similar position to you MaryKatherine my DC are 13, 8, 2 and 1 finding something everyone wants to do is virtually impossible.
Going anywhere by bus or train is hard with the double pram, if I could guarantee I wouldn't have to fold it then I would be more confident but from past experience the routes we use are really busy.
DD the eldest just seems to stay in her room.
What I find difficult is that DD can't just go to a friends or be called for as I used to do. Everything has to be pre-arranged with numerous texts and usually has to involve money and doing something.
The hanging out chatting we used to do is now done over facetime.
DS1 would be allowed to go to the park or ride his bike around the block etc but none of his friends are. Not one of his 8 good friends are allowed to do anything without total supervision.
We invite friends round but I seem to spend the whole time trying to keep my 2yo from annoying the friends.

MaryKatharine Wed 31-Jul-13 09:31:43

Thank you, mrsrobertduvall. The guilt is horrendous! I feel like the childhood of my wonderful ds1 is slipping away and I can't manage to give him any quality time due to having 3 younge children, one with additional needs. I hope he understands.

Growlithe Wed 31-Jul-13 09:24:08

Phoenix the attitude comes in when you are creating things that have to be done.

All this woe because you've got 6 weeks to fill with no routine. You have got a routine - breakfast, lunch, tea. There's your routine. Now you just need to stop worrying about whether it's a good or bad thing and help your DCs fill up the time between meals.

Periwinkle007 Wed 31-Jul-13 09:22:18

I think all countries have a long holiday at some point so whilst yes it may be a hangover from helping in the fields or something I think there must be a good reason for it.

I do think there is a certain skill involved in learning to occupy yourself or just 'be' to be honest. yes bumming around doing nothing can be detrimental I am sure but I think perhaps this is when they need to find their own interests and hobbies and decide how they could fill their day. go for walks, read, do craft, kick a football around, go jogging, gardening, try something new like painting, tinker around with things, make a go kart or skateboard or something, knit, cook - they could cook dinner for the family learning some useful skills as well as a sense of pride in having achieved it, sew, write a story, study an encyclopaedia, chat to friends and so on. Learn to give themselves a routine if that is what they are happier with.

oddly senior schools seem to get quite a bit more holiday than primary schools where we are now which I am not sure is the right way round as I think the younger ones need the break more.

Mrsrobertduvall Wed 31-Jul-13 09:19:42

So much harder with younger dcs who still need looking will get easier MaryKatherine as they get older.

I enjoy the summer holidays now as I can do my own thing...spent 5 hours at the V and A yesterday on my own. Bliss.

I used to plan each week methodically when they were small, offloading them to friends for a day (and returning the favour), trips to library, park, occasionally further afield. Loathed swimming and the cinema.Never did theme parks or anything costing exhorbitant amounts of money.

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