Why your children need purpose to their holidays
By Judy Churchill
Purpose or Pandemonium? Structure or Stress?
How were your summer holidays with the kids?
Many of you will be reading this article as your children are back at school or shortly due to return to school and will be reflecting on what went well and not so well over the summer. In fact whether the holidays went well from your children’s point of view will be played out over the next few weeks at school.
Apart from having a rest or fun with the family; what opportunities were there to learn new skills? How much time was devoted to keeping them ticking over with their schoolwork to smooth their re-entry into a new class this month? What independent adventures did they experience that helped them grow as human beings?
Contrary to what parents think, children do not thrive by having two months of rest and pure holiday ‘fun’. In fact with days often lacking purpose and structure they quickly get bored. I see the difference year after year in the children that are offered a mixture of days structured with some learning activities, some fun activities, sport and some ‘being on their own time’ activities.
Much of my summer is taken up working with VIP families whose children’s activities mirror those of the parents: a little work each day and time off each day. I see the difference! All ages in these families are catered for – my youngest pupil this summer was 18 months old – and all benefit. The children love the lessons as they give their days purpose. With a tutor they work completely differently to the way they work with their parents and the parents can take a breather. With no time for the brain to atrophy and forget, these children gain an incredible head start over their peers when they return to school, resulting in a stress-free start to the new term. Over the summer, the adults often catch up on coaching or language lessons and enjoy their leisure activities to a greater extent knowing that they have done something purposeful each day. What some of the families I work with do, is to take a ‘family day ‘ each week devoted to pure family fun. It’s an excellent idea that forces everyone to organise themselves to be together.
Before you start protesting: ‘yes but holidays are for relaxation!’, let’s remember that not all countries and cultures have the same attitude towards long holidays. They are something that we in the west created for any number of reasons that are now out of date. One of those reasons had to do with parents needing their children to help them harvest crops in the fields. How many of you are actually in that category?
Children are happiest when they are experiencing that good feeling that comes from having achieved something meaningful. This is why those that attend the Outward Bound summer camps are often amongst the highest achievers when they return to school and report an increased level of happiness. www.outwardboundmonaco.com They are experiencing the positive emotions associated with having gone beyond their comfort zone, making new friends and the learning of new life skills that they will take back into the classroom and their lives in general.
As parents it is our duty to make sure we educate our children in the art of structuring a day, which will then translate into a structured, happier mind. The brain craves order and structure and children are at their happiest and most secure when they have boundaries, limits and purpose.
The children I tutor during the holidays look forward to their lessons and one mother even told me that her 4-year-old was still chattering about what she had done with me that day as her eyes closed to go to sleep at bedtime.
So when you are organising your next school holidays, don’ t feel guilty if you decide to send your child to summer camp and do not feel guilty if you organise lessons during the holidays. They will have more than enough time to do ‘nothing’ and also have fun with you outside of this and in the long run they will thank you for it.
Judy is based in Monaco and specialises in transformational coaching on both an individual and team level. She also offers language tuition for adults and children in French, English and Spanish.
Tel : +377 6 40 61 04 87