As we roll into this bank holiday weekend it made me question the importance of holidays. Each week we read stories about parents being fined by local councils for taking their kids away during term time and I must admit my bias as a teacher, to have been angry at parents ‘selfishly’ removing children from vital units of learning. However; after doing a bit of research into the benefits of holidays on children, I must admit I have rather softened on the issue.
Research done by the Family Holiday Association in 2015 found that 49% of us in England have created our happiest memories whilst being on holiday with family. Furthermore, 24% of those surveyed said that they call on these happy memories when times get tough.
Mental health needs to be at the top of our list of priorities in this new digital age where ‘real’ interactions are becoming fewer and fewer as we live more and more in the virtual world.
Holidays force us into engaging in ‘green activities’ -going outside, partaking in water sports, swimming, hiking- ironically these fun days out have a lasting impact not only on one’s mood, but build a bank of memories which are vital to the connotative development of children.
Playing games is another key area which is engaged during the holidays. Many parents complain about not having enough time during the normal working week to ‘play’ with their children. However a holiday breaks us away from the routine of our ‘normal lives’ and offers us a chance to engage in fun activities with our children. Playing with your children builds their imaginations, helps develop problem solving abilities, it helps them develop key social skills, not to mention the obvious gross motor skills and hand-eye- coordination they pick up, all of which will help them in school!
For me what I found most interesting is how a holiday can help build a stronger relationship between you and your child. In the working week we are constrained to routine, getting dressed, having breakfast, the school run, coming home, homework, bath time, dinner time, bed time. Children rarely get to see who you are as a person beyond this machine of orders and structure. On holiday however, they get to know you in a different light as we break away from routine. One day you may wake up at a different time, breakfast may be held overlooking the ocean and a discussion about wild life and your favourite marine animal is had. The next day you may be stung by a jelly fish and your bravery at not crying (or swearing) will teach them valuable lessons into the nuances of who you are. A fight in the car over directions may teach them ways of problem solving (monkey see, monkey do, so try your best to roll model best behaviour when in tricky situations) but overall children will develop a more rounded idea of you as a person, and this may lead to a deeper understanding and closeness between the two of you.
Equally, you have the time to get to know your little one. What is their favourite animal on safari? Do they secretly collect spiders or have a fascination with stamps from other countries? Use this time to ask them questions about school and friendships and engage them in discussion as often as you can. try to avoid technology and embrace the time to be together in the real world.
Most importantly use this time to relax, recharge and regenerate. It’s only 3 days after all!