EDP Norfolk - - Education -

School is nearly out – the teach­ing and learn­ing stops, in favour of days of re­lax­ation and sun­shine. Or does it? Quite apart from the peren­nial threat of a rain-soaked Au­gust, the challenge of how to fill a long hol­i­day can test the most re­source­ful par­ent – and his or her pocket. The pre­sump­tion that every mo­ment has to be ac­tion-packed and fun-filled is hard to avoid, given the pres­sures that bear upon us all in a world be­set by glit­tery images of fa­mil­ial per­fec­tion.

Be­sides this, there are teach­ers warn­ing of the ‘sum­mer slump’, load­ing chil­dren down with heavy re­vi­sion packs or read­ing lists. This may be agree­able for some, but I sug­gest this is the point where chil­dren who do not fit the stan­dard mould come into their own.

What they need is time, and this is one thing they all have. Time for you to be along­side them, in wan­der­ing con­ver­sa­tions about the birds in the park, the horse nod­ding over a fence, the form and na­ture of clouds, the ran­dom­ness of traf­fic lights, the fluffi­ness of kit­tens or the ex­is­tence of God. These con­ver­sa­tions have no agenda and, as you lis­ten and are led, not pressed by lists, ap­point­ments or the rush to school, be­come bond­ing ex­pe­ri­ences be­cause you see each other in new, de­vel­op­ing, cre­ative ways. As the con­ver­sa­tion un­rav­els, so the ques­tions oc­cur and it be­comes our parental job not to pro­vide neat an­swers but sim­ply en­cour­age the ques­tion­ing, be­cause in this chil­dren’s think­ing grows too.

By the same token, tin­ker­ing with an old CD player, whit­tling a stick or light­ing the bar­beque (no matches al­lowed) can be­come gen­tle puz­zles; there is time, after all, to work them out, with min­i­mum di­rec­tion from adults.

Likely as not there will be a car jour­ney or two. We used to play ‘pub­legs’, the car game based around the na­tion’s hostel­ries in each town that you pass through. Mo­tor­way travel has put paid to that, but ‘Spot the VW Bee­tle’ count­ing and mem­ory games while away a Fri­day jour­ney through hol­i­day traf­fic. What­ever it is, your to­tal in­volve­ment is the cru­cial part, with ne­go­ti­a­tion, dis­cus­sion and de­vel­op­ment, every step of the way.

So, though school has fin­ished, the stim­u­la­tion and growth that can make up the sum­mer hol­i­day can feed teach­ing and learn­ing in ways us schools never can and – of course – feed that most pre­cious thing of all for your chil­dren: mem­o­ries of time spent, with you.

Happy hol­i­days!

Fred de Falbe, head­mas­ter of Bee­ston Hall School

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