By Kaitlin Lloyd, Flying Start Tuition Manager, Berkhamsted

At long last, the kids are back to school! You can finally breathe a sigh of relief and congratulate yourself on getting through the challenges of home-schooling. Yet concerns are already being raised about how children can catch up on missed learning. Focus is turning to the summer holidays, when the government wants schools to offer additional lessons and parents feel they will be expected to make up for lost time with more work at home. There seems to be a growing sense that the summer break must be used to fix the damage done by Covid-19. 

However, we must ask ourselves what the damage to our children has truly been. Headlines lamenting 840 million school days lost forget that children have also foregone a year of normality, seeing friends and family, fun and play. All of these are as important in our children’s development as formal learning. So how should parents handle the summer holidays? Here is our advice. 

Prioritise having fun! 

The past year has taken its toll on us all and the impact on our children’s wellbeing has been particularly severe. Feelings of stress and anxiety amongst children are higher than ever and, according to a survey by the Children’s Commissioner, much of this stress has been related to worries about missing school and exams. It is vital to support our children in recovering from this strain on their mental health but feeding concerns about lost school time by pushing them to ‘catch up’ will only make things worse. 

Instead, our children need time to relax and have fun – and so do you! Having to switch between being a teacher, parent and home worker has left little time for you and your children to spend quality time together without any other pressures. The best way we can help our children to heal, emotionally and physically, is through play, laughter, time with loved ones and enjoying the outdoors as more than the setting for a dutiful daily walk.

Keep skills ticking over 

All this being said, the usual advice that we would give for the long summer holiday still applies. The ‘summer slide’ is a well-known phenomenon that occurs over every lengthy break from school. Studies have shown that pupils can lose significant percentages of the learning they have acquired over the previous school year if they have a complete break from academic work over the holiday. 

It is important, therefore, to keep skills topped up with a little practice here and there. However, this does not mean missing out on summer sunshine to work through pages of maths problems. There are plenty of ways to make summer holiday learning fun! Family board games, baking sessions, reading time, craft projects and geocaching all offer myriad ways to practise skills whilst making happy summer memories.

Balance 11+ preparation with downtime 

For those facing the 11+ exam in autumn, it might seem counterintuitive to prioritise rest and relaxation. Certainly, preparation is required, but when it comes to study time, quality is far more important than quantity. Your child will get the most out of their learning when they are calm, focussed and engaged. Balancing work with play is the best way to ensure that time spent preparing is effective. Settle on a timetable that works for your child, such as a pre-agreed amount of work in the morning then the rest of the day to themselves. 

Since children have spent so much time this year working independently, an ideal way to keep 11+ study fun is with a holiday course. Your child will gain much more from a dynamic learning session with friends than a lonely hour with their books. Plus, having the support of an 11+ expert means you can happily leave behind your home-schooling role and focus on enjoying the summer together – and really that is what your child needs most!

To find out more about Flying Start Tuition, visit our website: www.flyingstarttuition.co.uk

Email: hello@flyingstarttuition.co.uk   Call: 01494 772898

For advice on supporting your child’s wellbeing and learning at home, check out: Home Schooling Survival Tips for Parents: https://www.facebook.com/groups/529916137522321