July 28, 2021
By Dr Kathy Weston
Ok, so I know that I said I wasn’t doing Wednesday Wisdom until September because I wanted to spend time with my children. But the truth is, every time I spend time with my children, some thought pops into my head that I am desperate to share with my Wednesday Wisdom readers! So perhaps, I will write sporadically over the summer to share a few bits and bobs that some of you might find useful.
My first summer reflection (read: moan) is how costly entertaining children is. My children have been off school for a week at this point and I am about £300 down. I am currently sitting here trying to work out exactly how that happened. Take a ‘day trip’ last week to Oxfordshire. We had a pre-booked family ticket to Blenheim Palace which cost approximately £120 and went for a swim shortly after at the community leisure centre (£9). A quick bite to eat seems to cost £25-£30 these days, so pre-planning packed lunches seems to be a summertime habit that I need to adjust to quickly. When we don’t plan, costs for families can escalate, but it takes time to research options, locate those ‘child-goes-free’ vouchers or work out how to get an online discount.
The transition to summer holidays from a busy term-time can be incredibly busy, stressful and we need to take time to adjust. For many parents, this change can be anxiety-inducing, due to competing demands on our time. Without the structure of the school day, juggling work, family tasks and childcare can feel scarily onerous. Summer parental guilt threatens to ensure that we never feel truly relaxed! As one parent recently expressed to me, ‘I need a summer schedule but I feel bad asking my kids to stick to one’.
Within the first week of the holiday, I made a schedule of every single thing that is going to happen over the next two months and then made my husband listen while I went through the lot. Did it make me feel better? Yes!
Once a plan was in place, I started to think about the admin attached to these events and how I might organise the paperwork. Had I even filled it in? Had I actually ordered the cake for my youngest’s birthday celebration in July? Who knows! Of course, the most important task of all is to locate the paddling pool, purchased in a panicked frenzy during the last boiling summer. Will there be leaks in it?
With some idea of schedule, I made sure that every single bit of uniform worn over the last term has been laundered and stored away and put a diary prompt in my phone for the opening hours of the school uniform shop at the end of the summer.
Admin and organisational plan complete, it was time to turn to the subject of fun. Summers come with horribly high expectations and I feel pressure to ensure that we get to the start of September feeling more relaxed and rested than we did at the end of the summer term.
In this vein, it’s a good idea to actually ask the kids to think of some activities that they would like to try over the summer (perhaps a little bit of everything is optimal). Can they try a new activity or sport? Read a book by a new author? Learn to cook a new dish? Help a neighbour or volunteer for a charity? Anything that expands their horizons, feels enjoyable and earns them a little bit of pocket money gets a ‘thumbs up’. Apps such as MyPocketSkill allow young people to register as tutors across multiple subjects, building up their CVs, their self-esteem and their bank accounts.
It’s important to relax too and, to my mind, that means anything that doesn’t involve a screen. In our family, crabbing is the most favoured activity for switching off. Why? Because it is pretty much impossible to go crabbing whilst holding a mobile phone. It takes some concentration, focus (not to fall in!) and can be both a very social and socially distanced activity, where children and young people can enjoy chatting to others along the quayside and sharing tips.
I’d love to hear about any fantastic, free summer activities that you and your family enjoy over the coming weeks. Tweet or email me with all of your ideas and I will feature them in my next Wednesday Wisdom.
The end of the school term also means the arrival of school reports into our inboxes. My main advice is to read them, digest them and talk them over, constructively, with your child.
If you are in a ‘Tooled Up’ school, download our school report reflection sheet, which your child can fill in, so that they end up approaching the summer with a sense of accomplishment and purpose ahead of the next academic year.
School reports can occasionally spark a rollercoaster of emotions in parents. Reading about our children’s efforts and accomplishments can make us beam with pride. Reading about areas of improvement can feel daunting and sometimes puzzling. Try to take these comments and work positively through them.
I don’t want to be a party pooper but summer learning loss is a real phenomenon, so let’s encourage those brains to keep ticking over with reading, puzzles, daily maths problems and a little bit of exploration around the subjects they are doing in school.
Lastly, you are all welcome to attend my public, autumnal webinars which I will be co-presenting with other evidence-based practitioners. We kick off the series with professional organiser, Tracy Ross, who can help us to understand how home organisation can improve our wellbeing – happily, she will also give us loads of practical tips. If you’re feeling inspired by Olympic success stories, make sure that you join our webinars with elite hockey player, Holly Cram, who will be talking to me about developing young athletes’ physical and emotional resilience and Dan Richardson, who will share his knowledge around nutrition and sports performance. We’ll also be chatting with charity, Lifting Limits, about the topic of gender stereotypes and those of you with children under the age of 5 will be pleased to know that I am also delivering a talk on optimal parenting approaches during those golden years.
All dates and times are available to view on the front page of the www.tooledupeducation.com site and, don’t forget, Tooled Up parents in my subscriber schools attend for free.
Are you a Tooled Up member?
We hope you have been enjoying the 250+ resources on the Tooled Up Education site that are freely available to you as a current member of our school community. Our library of resources is still there to support you and your family over the holidays, so don’t forget to log in when you have any parenting queries, and keep an eye on our social media for regular updates.