School kids and holidays

By David Austin

Before we know it, the bell will ring for the final school day of the year and the children will be running out the doors excited for the Christmas break.

With six weeks of holidays, what exactly do you do with the children to keep them entertained, and you not stressed? Should we be concerned about them losing the skills they have gained at school over the year?

Throughout the school year the everyday responsibilities of parenting can sometimes feel endless. Ironically, during the Christmas holidays, parents can often feel more stressed than usual. Christmas holiday stress may be caused by having to change work routines or child care arrangements, stretching the budget to meet the costs of the Christmas season or being reminded of the death of a loved one. The thought of entertaining children for six weeks can be scary too!

The year has been long and everyone is tired. It is important for staff, parents and students to use this long summer break to rest and get that energy back for the start of the school year. It is also important to enjoy the break: not be tied down to bell- times, wake-up alarms, homework timelines or after school sporting events.

Parenting is a hard job at the best of times. As a father of four children myself, I know it doesn’t take too many days into the Christmas holidays before I start hearing ‘I’m bored!’ It is great to have some activities planned for the family but also important to have time at home to just “hang out”. Here are some suggestions for the upcoming school holidays that will assist the students with their learning, as well as having a bit of fun.

Christmas falls in our summer holidays and the students have been reminded of the meaning of this special time in the last weeks of school. So make it a priority to attend Christmas Mass with your family. Spend this time speaking as a family about Christmas and the wonderful event recalling the birth of Jesus.

During the school year we constantly remind our students and their families of the importance of reading regularly. Research tells us that reading levels can drop during long holiday periods and catching up is often needed early in the new school year. Encourage your children to read each day, even for ten minutes. They will enjoy this as well as improve their reading.

Encourage children away from TV and video games and toward some physical activity. This will also assist with their gross motor and coordination skills. It will also build their confidence and self-esteem. Activities like helping in the garden, flying a kite, going for a bike ride or playing with the family pet are simple activities that will get children outside and active.

Finally, enjoy the break as a family. Before you know it, another school year will be upon us!

Wishing all readers a very happy, safe and holy Christmas.