Take a break!

As summer approaches, we begin to make plans for ourselves and those we are responsible for. For many of us, summer holidays vanish even before they begin, swallowed up by long to-do lists and home-improvement chores kept pending for the so-called break. If we are parents, we have to think about how to keep our children occupied somewhat productively for the two months out of school. Swimming lessons, painting classes, camps of varying lengths and intensity…or, if we’re lucky, packing off to grandparents!

But the whole point of a break is to not have a plan, isn’t it?

We’ve become so used to having our days – our lives – time tabled to the last detail, that we get a bit anxious in the absence of a set routine. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against a routine. In fact, I accept that routines are a great way to get things done and move toward goals. But sometimes the routine itself becomes more important than the goals it is supposed to be helping us achieve. And that’s where over-scheduled holidays can become a problem.

By all means, set up some targets for the holidays. Make a list of books you want to read, and get started on reading them. Think about all the movies you would have loved to watch and never managed to – now see if you can borrow them from a video library or a friend (or watch them online) and spend some pleasurable moments in front of your home screen. Go over the names of people you’ve been meaning to call on but haven’t had the time for. Pencil those visits into your calendar and make time for family and friends.

In the relaxed looseness of the days-without-work, we often find invaluable ideas that we can take back to our classrooms and our staffrooms, ideas that do not emerge at other times because we are so focused on just getting through the day and fulfilling our schedules. It’s the same with children too. They need those stretchable, pliable days of doing nothing, with no expectations, in order to rebuild their energy and allow their minds to wander – and wonder.

This issue of Teacher Plus looks at a problem that many of us may have faced – as teachers, administrators, and as parents. How do we make our schools more welcoming of children who have talents and visions beyond the academic? How can we rethink our unforgiving and rigid schedules and procedures so that we can accommodate the possibility of achievement in fields that are outside the examination subjects? We have some suggestions, some ideas, but many more questions for each of us to take away and think about in our individual contexts.

So beat the heat this summer with some cooling down time for yourself. Happy holidays!