When you are juggling a busy home life the long holidays can sometimes be more stressful than term-time. What do you do with your children all day, especially when the rain inevitably rolls in over the long summer holidays? How do you initiate a routine to avoid turmoil when term time comes back around? Who can you trust to occupy your children when you are running around?
It’s not just parents who can fear these long breaks. The debate over the length of school holidays has reached fever-pitch in educational institutions who are questioning the current structure of the school year. Academic research now suggests that long breaks can even have a detrimental effect on children’s academic performance. One key US study (Cooper) found that, at best, students showed no academic growth over the summer and at worst students lost three months of learning. This regression can be a daunting piece of news, especially when your child is facing important exams in the new term. Many parents are recognising that they may actually be doing their child a disservice by not continuing their education during the longer holidays.
However, help is at hand! There are lots of possibilities to explore; whether through a more structured learning programme or fun educational games you can play with your child each day, these exercises will do wonders to keep your children’s minds engaged and active. A 2011 research paper discovered that children demonstrated significant improvements in developing their literacy skills if they took part in academic programmes, putting those children ahead of their peers who’d received no educational input over the holidays.
The brain acts like a muscle – you either use it or lose it! Educational activities should be viewed in the same way as tennis or music lessons. If you stop practising a sport you lose muscle strength and endurance and it’s the same for the brain. No matter how hard you work on your swing if you don’t do anything for seven weeks it will take time to get back up to your best level. The learning process is the same, especially if your child struggles with learning. Having a long break in educational terms makes it harder for each child when they need to switch back on. Keeping up the momentum is essential to ensuring that your child is not at a disadvantage back in the school environment and one way to keep on top of your child’s learning during the holidays is through gentle tutoring, whether by you or a professional tutor.
The right tutor doesn’t just prepare your child for their exams but will take the role of mentor, confidence-grower and inspirer. Tutoring is about expanding children’s educational horizons. Taking a child to the theatre or a museum can bring a subject to life in a way that can’t be replicated in the classroom. If the tutor can work this experience into a project, a child will then feel the wider creative benefits. The impact of real-world learning has been shown to be effective at bringing subjects to life that children might traditionally have found ‘tricky’. A recent report by the University of Manchester (2010) found that children are more engaged with and enthusiastic about their learning when it is applied to a practical situation.
A good tutoring agency will offer you a number of options. Every child is unique and their learning programme should be tailored to reflect that. Enjoy Education ensures that all children are offered a full assessment before being assigned a tutor to understand what areas children need to improve and how each child learns best. Some parents choose to take a tutor away with them abroad, fitting in lessons around activities whilst others decide that a Back to School booster course will suit their child better. This particularly applies for children entering Year 6 where they face multiple exams.
We’re all agreed that the long school holidays provide children with much needed rest and rejuvenation and they also offer a wonderful opportunity for your children to enjoy learning, explore a passion and build their confidence, ready to start the new term with relish.