Making the Most of School Holidays...
The work-life balance is a tricky question for parents not just seeking to find a healthy balance in their own lives but also for their children, especially during long school holidays. During this time – all children, whether from state school or independent schools, are affected by the lack of academic stimulation, without some sort of enrichment programme.
Summer school can provide structured support in terms of individual tutor attention to those pupils that struggled during their school year. It can also provide a boost to those children that are high-fliers and help bridge the disparity of educational standards between state and independent schools. Although this is by no means the only way; parents can themselves devise a programme of activities to keep their children stimulated in the holidays by way of:
a) visits to museums, galleries or exhibitions, etc.
b) regular trips to the library for reading materials
c) listening to radio broadcasts
d) watching TV programmes on educational themes
e) reading texts from journals and magazines
f) games, experiments
Non-formal education should seek to provide purposeful consequences and value for the child. Preparation of some instructional materials is key. Reading also makes a massive difference and is worth highlighting, but this is not something that is easy to enforce; in the case of a ‘reluctant reader’.
Of course there are resource implications for both structured and informal education during the holidays. The cost of summer schools versus the cost of games, reading materials and day trips, (including entrance charges, travel costs, time-off work, personal time to plan/organise and execute the non-formal activities). Budgets allowing, parents can opt for a few weeks of summer school and the remainder of the summer holidays spent in informal education.
By the time they return to school in September, most students typically score lower on standardised tests at the end of their summer holidays than they do on the same tests, taken at the beginning of the summer: this is according to research spanning 100 years. Why does it matter? Over time and if nothing is done to ‘plug’ or address this learning slide which begins at primary school level, pupils can fall consistently behind their peers who have participated in summer enrichment programmes.
Finally, since there is no formal, statutory regulating body for supplementary education, it is important for parents to visit the supplementary school, attend a presentation if available, speak to other parents whose children attend or have attended the summer school (to get as much information as possible) and make an informed choice.
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