The summer holidays are nearly upon us and it is this time of year that I realise how grown up my children are getting. My oldest has now finished school, and my youngest is about to start secondary school! I’m starting to feel old too!
These last few months have been a stressful time for both my children as one has had to sit her GCSEs and the other her SATS tests. Neither have found exams easy, but I know whatever result they get, they will have tried their best. I’ll always be proud of them.
There has also been the choice over which school and college they attend next in their educational journey, having to prepare themselves for leaving friends and supportive adults that have been an important part of their life behind, to move forward in their life journey. It has been an emotional rollercoaster at times.
Change is an inevitable part of life, but for some children it hits them harder than others. Just because one person sees a change as positive, that doesn’t mean everyone will see it that way. For example, going on a school trip is often something children look forward to. However, for some children, particularly those with autism, not following the daily school routine can cause a lot of anxiety and stress for them.
Most schools do now often have transition days so children can feel more ready for their new class and teacher next academic year. These days really are vital in helping everyone feel less nervous about returning to school in September after such a long break. It is important that these days are positive experiences for all involved as first impressions do count for a lot. Listen to your child’s worries, if there are any, and let them know it is perfectly normal to feel like they do and give them emotional support. Make sure you keep school staff informed if there is anything that feels like a big issue to you. Without knowing a problem, they can not guide and support you through these changes.
With many children having working parents, it is difficult for some parents to have much time off over the summer holiday. My advice is to focus on the quality rather than quantity of time you do have with your children. Even if it is one day a week, make sure that you focus your attention on your children for that period of time. It doesn’t need to be expensive trips out either. A picnic at the beach, building sand castles, looking in rock pools together can create memories that show your children that you care. Letting them help cook the tea or bake a cake can also be fun! Try not to let the guilt set in that they are at their Grandparents or in a holiday club rather than with you. There may be times when they are missing you, but they are also learning life skills and building relationships with other people.
Just because children are on holiday from school doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to say ‘no’. School may be over, but boundaries, rules and routines are still important. You may wish to set later bedtimes or allow your children to go on their computers for longer periods of times, but it is okay to also encourage your children to help more around the house. With more time on their hands without homework and being tired from school all day, you can ask for help with cleaning up. Spending more time around each other can be hard work, especially the older your children get and the less excited they get about going to the park or for a walk. Just because they want to go to ibounce, the cinema or Flambards, for example, that doesn’t mean you have to go, especially if you are finding behaviour challenging at home. Talk with your children about finding compromises as we can’t always get what we want. A very important life skill to learn early in life.
More importantly, I hope the sun shines for most of the holiday. It isn’t everything, but it does help to encourage people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. There will be ups and downs through the holidays, but try to focus on the positives, and remember every day is a new day. You can’t keep all the people happy all of the time however much you try. You can do your best though to think about what not only yourself but what other family members may enjoy. Again, it may mean compromises and changes are made, and sometimes you may surprise yourself or others at enjoying something you never thought you would.