Why do they have to be so long? I honestly believe the only ones who really enjoy them are teachers and others who work in schools. Kids say they like having six weeks off for their summer holidays but we all know they get bored by week three. It’s hard to keep kids entertained over a weekend, but when you have the equivalent of 21 weekends in a row it becomes a real challenge. And yes, I worked that out with a calculator.
Having kids with special needs makes it more of a challenge for so many families. Some will have problems going anywhere as the sensory overload is too much, some will have to entertain the children literally all day every day as they don’t have the ability to ‘go and play’. Many parents will juggle full-time work with children and school holidays and it may be that they take a little time off in each school break and find appropriate childcare for the rest of the holiday. This provision simply doesn’t exist for most parents with disabled children. Sure, groups are ‘meant’ to be fully accessible to all, but the truth is they are not. Being accessible just means a ramp for a wheelchair, right? Errm, no.
My children can’t access clubs as there aren’t any, as in there actually isn’t a club to go to at all. Ben couldn’t access one even if it did exist, his needs are too complex for most people to cater for. PArents of Ben and Ayesha’s school have rallied together and are creating a weekly play date in a local park where they will all play games and enjoy a picnic. That’s great but again Ben couldn’t go, he would simply walk off wanting to go home.
There used to be a lot more provision for disabled children, and mainstream kids too, but the austerity ‘we are all in it together’ cuts have seen them all shut down, only the strongest have survived and they will all be self or grant-funded pretty much. Not many local authorities will be funding play clubs this summer, they can’t afford to keep the lights on in most areas.
I didn’t start this to get political, and the clubs – or lack of them – are only part of the problem with summer holidays. The real problem is the duration. It see’s children bored, parents struggling with a work-life balance and the only people ‘winning’ are the holiday companies and the educators. My suggestion is simple, you take 2 weeks off and put them onto the Christmas and Easter holidays, they all get the same amount of time off but the summer is now just a month long. The Christmas holidays can be frustrating for kids, some years they break up a good week before the festivities and end up going back to school on the 2nd of January. Much better to have a week off after New Year when people may take a holiday abroad or travel to see family or friends.
I have been dreading the summer holidays for weeks, and now they are here I’m counting down the days until they go back to school. I shouldn’t wish away their time like this, I know that, but Ben is not happy being home, he loves school, he doesn’t understand why he can’t go in. He had a huge meltdown yesterday, and that was Sunday, 2 days into the holidays. We are carefully planning places to go where Ben can pretty much stay in the car or at most we get out for an hour as he may survive that long. West Midlands Safari Park is definitely high on the list as we can drive around the safari park a few times and he will be happy – he does love big cats, he gets very flappy when he sees the tigers for the first time. It may even be that Mandy takes Sammi and Ayesha into the rest of the park where you walk around and interact with the exhibits and I drive Ben around the park one more time. It’s not an ideal day out but it’s what we do.
We have a wedding to attend, Mandy’s nephew, it’s in South Wales so not too far for us, but there is no way Ben can go, and we don’t have anyone else who can care for him. So once again Mandy, Sammi and Ayesha will be going and I will stay home with Ben trying to keep him amused and calm for the day. I don’t blame anybody for the length of the holidays, I don’t honestly know when the decision was made to give kids 6 weeks off, and certainly growing up I loved having so much time off. I genuinely do wonder if it’s time to change. Either make it 4 weeks and extend Christmas and Easter as I suggested above or make it 3 weeks and make the three half-term breaks 2 weeks long instead of the current 1 week.
I’m sure there will be riots and protests from the teachers for me even suggesting such a drastic cut to their holidays, but I wonder if once it was adopted that the extra week in the half terms might be a better break and give people more opportunities. Although us parents with SEND kiddos would still have the same overall duration of holidays, it would make things feel easier knowing you only have to survive two weeks, that the summer would be over so much quicker and you can get back to routine.
I feel bad for suggesting it, I’m wishing the kids holidays away and wanting them back to school, but really 6 weeks… Come and stay a couple of days in my house and see what you think, I bet you won’t want to stick around for 6 weeks!