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Holiday Work - A Few Thoughts

There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing some extra work over the holidays to consolidate or reinforce a particular topic, or simply in order to keep things ticking over. In fact, when exams are looming this extra studying is both right and proper. However, in many cases nowadays such additional work seems to have become the norm for every holiday, and in ever-increasing quantities - which is a very great shame.

Having worked in boarding prep. schools for many years I know first hand just how busy the children are during term-time. Music practice at 7.00 before breakfast; extra sport training at break; choir practice after lunch; play rehearsal in the evening; extra art; Maths catch-up... The list goes on and on. That's on top of that usual daily diet of lessons, games, music, art, drama, activities, etc. Some children's lives are unimaginably hectic, yet they juggle their many commitments with a level of determination and skill that would put most adults to shame. With that in mind, the holidays really are important not just for families to spend quality time together (which is crucial) but also to provide some respite from the stresses and busyness of term.

Of course there are exceptions to every "rule". Some children have a genuine thirst for knowledge and really enjoy studying. I am not for a second suggesting that they should be discouraged and potential academic scholars, in particular, will need to work very hard - four hours per day in the holiday prior to their exams is perfectly common. But maintaining a good balance is essential - for scholars, the challenge is often to ensure that they have sufficient "down time" and do not spend hours on end each day (by choice) glued to a desk!

Thus a sensible, considered amount of extra studying during a holiday is a very good and positive thing, especially when exams are on the horizon. But with a lifetime of work stretching ahead of them it is vital that young people are also able to enjoy their childhood. After all, it is a period that will never come around again. Holiday work is fine - but maintaining a good balance is key.

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