The school summer holidays are just beginning. Of course, this is not the normal end to a normal school year.
With significant time out of the classroom for so many children, some parents and carers will be wondering whether – as well as a chance for some well-deserved time off – the summer holidays are an opportunity for kids to dip into some extra learning, to make sure they are ready for September.
What’s the right balance when it comes to giving children a break after a difficult year, alongside helping them feel ready for the academic challenges of a new school year? And is there any support out there for parents or carers who want to give their children help with schoolwork over the summer?
Having fun and making memories
BBC Bitesize reported early this year that PlayFirstUK – a group of child psychologists – advocated that the focus for children should be on emotional well-being, where possible reconnecting and spending time with friends and family, rather than focusing on too much ‘catch-up’.
Though many of us won’t get away this year, there is still plenty of entertainment to be had closer to home. In fact, the Government has launched a campaign to encourage families to ‘Rediscover Summer’, challenging them to do all they can to make the most out of summer safely. There’s a whole range of activity suggestions from reading, coding and music, to cycling and walking routes and volunteering in the local community. Visit Rediscover Summer for sign posting to opportunities for fun all over the country. For families whose children receive free school meals, this summer local authorities are also offering access to holiday clubs where children can take part in fun activities and learn new skills.
There are also plenty of free resources online where you can get ideas and inspiration for summer fun, from twinkl, where you can download summer activity packs, to the Oak National Academy, which has pulled together a range of free enrichment activities.
MyTutor recently revealed that, according to the Institute of Labour Economics, 58 million primary and secondary school children across Europe got caught up in pandemic-related school closures, so catching up on important learning will be on the summer agenda for plenty of parents. If you’re planning to support your kids with school work over the holidays, MyTutor bloggers Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer advise that focusing on 3 weekly small goals rather than setting big summer objectives can help grow their confidence!
There are lots of learning resources families can draw on over summer: nearly three quarters of secondary schools expected to be running summer schools this July and August – many focused on helping children making the transition into year 7. Similarly, many children around the country have also been offered tutoring through their school, a resource set aside by government to help children who have been most impacted by learning missed during lockdowns.
MyTutor’s free YouTube channel is easy to browse, with a great selection of GCSE catch up lessons, careers advice and home-learning study and revision tips, so if end of term reports or updates from teachers have flagged any gaps for your child, you can focus on the areas where you can make the most difference. Alternatively, if you’re looking for teaching tailored to the topics your child is struggling with, or focusing on specific competencies they’re keen to develop, MyTutor’s online tutors have expertise across a wide range of subjects, as well as plenty of exam experience to help get children and teens on the front foot before returning to school.
Learning doesn’t have to be a sit-at-your-desk-style affair, and sometimes works best slotted into everyday leisure and downtime. Watching TV and listening to podcasts are a great ways of subconsciously continuing their learning during the summer months, as Tamara at MyTutor says. Podcasts are free to access and can be listened to whilst out and about, whilst Netflix documentaries and series offer a plethora of learning opportunities for teens; so much so that My Tutor have compiled a helpful list of films and documentaries that fit GCSE and A Level curriculums.
Our thanks to our partner, MyTutor, for their handy insights into striking the right study-downtime balance this summer. For more advice from them, you can check out their extensive blog series for parents here.