Here we go again….back on the old school treadmill

Alex Molton reviews the benefits of the summer break and looks ahead to another school year.

back to school sign

 

I don’t know how it was for you, but in our house the summer holidays went by in a flash. I guess that’s a good thing, given the lack of reliably decent weather, lots of working for both me and OH, no holiday (but lots of photos of everyone else’s!) and what felt like a lot of screens for the kids.

I must admit I was approaching it with some trepidation, given that I have only worked term time for some years and wasn’t this year, the new puppy who is still settling in and the knowledge that the kids would be harder to entertain now, given that they no longer want to fill the summer with petting zoos, splash parks and playdates.

However I have to say I had underestimated how it would all play out. Our eldest (14) took the lead with lots of helping to feed the other two, walk the dog and keep some status quo, without us asking him to step up or any expectation of reward or recognition. Son #2 did spend a fair amount of time alone reading and constructing Lego in his room, but did also enjoy spending time with his siblings, pushed himself to do some things out of the house alone (which is a bit scary for him) and even got into a drawing course, with some impressive results.

My daughter did struggle to entertain herself – she is very sociable and a huge extrovert, compared to the rest of us – and didn’t manage to catch up with many of her friends due to holidays and other plans. However she has been religiously practising her keepy uppies to complete her personal Cub challenge and has improved massively (the previous record of 4 has now been smashed several times) and showed great resilience in practising the same task over and over again. Hopefully that will stand her in good stead for the future.

Also I did spend some really lovely time with the children. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t spending our afternoons completing art projects, baking, knitting or any other wholesome activities which I would have thought a ‘worthy’ use of time when the children were smaller. But my daughter and I played a lot of football (she is a goalie and football nut) and we played some family games (board and computer) and did manage to play crazy golf (fun, even in the rain!) and had some family days out with picnics and the puppy. I feel that they are refreshed and ready for a new year, which I suppose is the point of the long break.

I also got to spend more time with them one on one and actually had proper full conversations with them about a variety of interesting and random things, instead of the snippets that often take place when we are all rushing about. Son #2 has a huge interest in Japanese culture and has a pretty solid knowledge of ornamental swords and the country’s fables and myths, so I genuinely learnt a lot about a subject I would probably never have thought to explore otherwise. More reading together with my daughter showed that her skills are really strong and she is developing her own preference for particular stories and genres, which was encouraging to see (like me, she is all about the doing and sometimes needs to slow down a bit and enjoy the moment). More adult conversations with Son#1 showed that he is actually quietly very ambitious (he’s very modest so it’s hard to tell!) and has really carefully considered his future and the career path he wants to take. With aspirations to attend Oxford to study AI, he has chosen his GCSE’s very deliberately and thought ahead as to how he might get there (“I just want to focus on my GCSE’s and do really well, mum).

And then here we are at the start of another school year. I am not always a fan of the enforced routine of school terms, and tend to look ahead to the year slightly overwhelmed by all of the ‘things’ which will need to be fitted in; school trips, extracurricular activities, football, birthday parties……but this year I am trying to be a bit more measured and just look ahead to the next week (they are already starting to get filled, and we’ve only been back for 3 days!) so we’ll see how that goes. This year seems particularly significant, with Son#1 starting his GCSE’s and Son #2 moving up to high school, so I’m expecting some curve balls, some shouting in the mornings when homework or PE kits can’t be found and a few ups and downs, but fingers crossed for a fairly smooth ride for us all.



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